Full text of "Legend"
• te Steiner
ELI. By C. M. Peaks.
MISER'S MONEY. By I'm N Iiiii.i.-
SAINT'S PROGRESS. By John
(,(>ld and iron. by joseph
AN HONEST THIEF. By Fyodor
"REGIMENT OF WOMEN," AND "first THE blade'
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
Br.ETHOTEN, Op. 57.
Ltndon ■ Gillian: li, i
Messrs. Mitchell and Bent will shortly issue ' The
Life of Madala Grey ' by Anita Serle : a critical
biography based largely on private correspondence
and intimate personal knowledge.
That was in The Times a fortnight ago. And now
the reviews are beginning —
The Cult of Madala Grey. . .
The Problem of Madala Grey. . .
The Secret of Madala Grey. . .
I wish they wouldn't. Oh, I wish they wouldn't.
No admirer of the late Madala Grey's arresting
art can fail to be absorbed by these intimate and
unexpected revelations . . .
Delicately, unerringly, Miss Serle traces to its
source the inspiration of that remarkable writer. . .
And — this will please Anita most of all —
We ourselves have never joined in the chorus of
praise that, a decade ago, greeted the appearance of
' Eden Walls ' and its successors, and in our opinion
Miss Serle, in her biographical enthusiasm, uses the
zvord genius a little too often and too easily. Madala
Grey has yet to be tried by that subtlest of literary
critics, the Man with the Scythe. But whether or
not we agree with Miss Serle' s estimate of her heroine,
there can be no two questions as to the literary value
of the ' Life ' itself. It definitely places Miss Serle
L EG E N 1)
among the BosweUs, and as we close Us fascinating
pages ttr find ourselves wondering whether our grand-
children will remember Miss Serle as the biographer
ofMadala Grey, or Madala Grey as the subject matter
ninth/, of a chronicle that has become a classic.
That is to say — La reine est morte. Vive la feint !
Anita will certainly be pleased. Well, I suppose
she's got what she wants, what she's always wanted.
She isn't a woman to change. The new portrait in
the Bookman might have been taken when I knew
her : the mouth's a trifle harder, the hair a trifle
greyer; but no real change. But it amuses me
that there should be her portrait in all the papers,
and none of Madala Grey; not even in the Life
itself. I can hear Anita's regretful explanations
in her soft, convincing voice. She will make a
useful little paragraph out of it —
Miss Serle, whose ' Life of Madala Grey ' is causing
no small stir in literary circles, tells us that the brilliant
novelist had so great a dislike of being photographed
that there is no record of her features in existence,
.l/i odd foible in one rvho, in our own recollection,
was not only a popular writer but a strikingly beautiful
And yet, from her heavy, solitary frame (we have
no other pictures in our den) that ' beautiful woman,'
with her flowered scarf and her handful of cowslips,
is looking down at this moment at me — at mc, and
the press cuttings, and The Times, and Anita's
hateful book. And she says, unmistakeably —
' Does it matter ? What does it matter ? ' laughing
a little as she says it.
Then I laugh too, because Anita knows all about
After all, does it matter? Does it matter what
Anita says and does and writes ? And why should
I of all people grudge Anita her success ? Honestly,
I don't. And I don't doubt that the book is well
written : not that I shall read it. There's no need :
I know exactly what she will have written : I know
how convincing it will be. But it won't be true.
It won't be Madala Grey.
Of course Anita would say — ' My dear Jenny,
what do you know about it ? You never even met
her. You heard us, her friends, her intimates,
talking about her for — how long ? An hour ?
Two hours ? And on the strength of that — that,
eaves-dropping five years ago ' (I can hear the nip
in her voice still) ' you are so amusing as to challenge
my personal knowledge of my dearest friend.
Possibly you contemplate writing the story of
Madala Grey yourself? If so, pray send me a
copy.' And then the swish of her skirt. She always
wore trains in those days, and she always glided
away before one could answer.
But I could answer. I remember that evening
so well. I don't believe I've forgotten a word or a
movement, and if I could only write it down, those
two hours would tell, as Anita's book never will, the
story of Madala Grey.
I ought to be able t<> write; because Anita is my
mother's cousin; though I never Baw her till 1 was
Mother died when I was eighteen.
If she had not been ill SO long it would have he. i,
harder. As it was— but there's no use in writing
down that black time. Afterwards I didn't know
what to do. The pension had stopped, of course.
I'd managed to teach myself typing, though Mother
couldn't be left much ; but I didn't know shorthand,
and I couldn't get work, and my money was
dwindling, and I was getting scared. I was ready
to worship Anita when her letter came. She was
sorry about Mother and she wanted a secretary.
If I could type I could come.
I remember how excited I was. I'd always lived
in such a tiny place and we couldn't afford Mudie's.
To go to London, and meet interesting people, and
live with a real writer, seemed too good to be true.
And it helped that Anita and her mother were
relations. Mother used to stay with Great -aunt
Serle when she was little. Somehow that made-
things easier to me when I was missing Mother more
In the end, after all those expectations, I was only
three weeks with Anita. They were a queer three
weeks. I was afraid of her. She was one of tlio e
people who make you feel guilty. But she was
kind to me. I typed most of the day, for she was a
lluent worker and never spared either of us; but
she took me to the theatre once, and I used to pour
out when interesting people came to tea. In the
first fortnight I met nine novelists and a poet ; but
I never found out who they were, because they all
called each other by their Christian names and
you couldn't ask Anita questions. She had such a
way of asking you why you asked. She used to
glide about the room in a cloud of chiffon and
cigarette smoke — she had half-shut pale eyes just
the colour of the smoke — and pour out a stream of
beautiful English in a pure cool voice ; but if they
interrupted her she used to stiffen and stop dead
and in a minute she had glided away and begun to
talk to someone else. Old Mrs. Serle used to sit
in a corner and knit. She never dropped a stitch;
but she always had her eyes on Anita. She was
different from the rest of my people. She had an
accent, not cockney exactly, but odd. She had had
a hard life, I believe. Mother said of her once that
her courage made up for everything. But she
never told me what the everything was. Great-
aunt's memory was shaky. One day she would
scarcely know you, and another day she would
be sensible and kind, very kind. She liked parties.
People used to come and talk to her because she
made them laugh; but every now and then, when
Anita was being brilliant about something, she would
put up her long gnarled finger and say — ' Hush !
Listen to my daughter ! ' and her eyes would twinkle.
But I never knew if she were proud of her or not.
I. EG E N n
Everybody s.» id thai Anita was brilliant. She
could take a hook l<» pieces so that yon saw every
good bit and every bad bit separated away into
little compartments. Bui she spoiled things for
you. hooks .Mid people, at least she did for me.
She sneered. She said of t he Baxter girl once, for
instance — 'She's really too tactful. If you go to
tea with her you are sure to be introduced to your
oldest friend.' And again — 'She always likes the
right people for the wrong reasons.'
Of course one knows what she meant, but I liked
the Baxter girl all the same. Beryl Baxter — but
everyone called her the Baxter girl. She was kind
to me because I was Anita's cousin, and she used to
talk to me when Anita wasn't in the mood for her.
She asked me to call her ' Beryl ' almost at once.
Anita used to be awfully rude to her sometimes,
and then again she would have her to supper and
spend an evening going through her MSS. and I
could tell that she was giving her valuable help.
The Baxter girl used to listen and agree so eagerly
and take it away to re-write. I thought she was
dreadfully grateful. I hated to hear her. And
when she was gone Anita would lean back in her
chair with a dead look on her face and say —
" God help her readers ! Jenny, open the
window. That girl reeks of patchouli." And then
— " Why do I waste my time? "
And Great -aunt Serle in her corner would chuckle
and poke and mutter, but not loud —
' Why does she waste her time ? Listen to my
daughter ! "
The next time the Baxter girl came Anita would
hardfy speak to her.
The Baxter girl seemed to take it as a matter of
course. But once she said to me, with a look on her
face as if she were defending herself —
'' Ah — but you don't write. You're not keen.
You don't know what it means to be in the set."
" But such heaps of people come to see Anita,"
I said, " people she hardly knows."
" They're only the fringes," said the Baxter girl
complacently. " They're not in the Grey set.
They don't come to the Nights. At least, only a
few. Jasper Flood, of course — you've met him,
haven't you ? — and Lila Howe — Masquerade, you
know, and Sir Fortinbras." The Baxter girl always
ticketed everyone she mentioned. " And the
Whitneys. She used to stay with the Whitneys.
And Roy Huth. And of course Kent Rehan."
" The Kent Rehan," said the Baxter girl.
Then I remembered. The vicar's wife always
sent Mother the Academy catalogue after she had
been up to town. I used to cut out the pictures I
liked, and I liked Kent Rehan's. They had wind
blowing through them, and sunshine, and jolly
blobs that I knew must be raw colour, and always
the same woman. But you could never see her face,
only a cheek curve or a shoulder line. They were
LEG EN I)
in the catalogue every year, and so I I * » I < I the Baxter
girl. She laughed.
" Yrs. Ik^'s always on i 1 » < - line. Anita says that's
the worst she knows of him. And of COUTSe the
veiled lady " she laughed again, knowingly,
' Hut there is one full face. I believe. The Spring
Song he calls it. But it's never been shown.
Anita's seen it. She told me. He keeps it locked
away in his studio. They say he's in love with her."
" Madala Grey, of course."
I said —
'•Who is Madala Grey?"
The Baxter girl had sunk into the cushions until
she was prone. I had been wondering with the bit
of mind that wasn't listening what the people at
home would have said to her, with her cobweb
stockings (it was November) and her coloured combs
and her sprawl. It was a relief to see her sit up
" ' Who's Madala Grey ! ' " Her mouth stayed
open after she'd finished I he sentence.
"Yes," I said. "Who is she?"
" You mean to say you've never heard of Madala
Grey? You've never read Eden Walls/' Is there
anyone in England who hasn't rend Eden WaJllsf**
" Heaps," I said. She annoyed me. She — they
— they all thought me a fool at Anita's.
The Baxter girl sighed luxuriously.
' My word, I envy you ! I wish I was reading
Eden Walls for the first time — or Ploughed Fields.
I don't care so much about The Resting-place"
She laughed. " At least — one's not supposed to
care about The Resting-place, you know. It's as
much as one's life's worth — one's literary life."
" What's wrong with it ? "
'' Sentimental. Anita says so. She says she
doesn't know what happened to her over The
" I like the title," I said.
" Yes, so do I. And I love the opening where
Oh, but you haven't read it. And you're Anita's
cousin ! What a comedy ! Just like Anita though,
not to speak of her."
" Why ? Doesn't Anita like her ? "
The Baxter girl was flat on the cushions again.
She looked at me with those furtive eyes that
always so strangely qualified her garrulity.
" Are you shrewd ? Or was that chance ? "
" ' Doesn't Anita like her ? ' "
"Doesn't she then ? "
" Ah, now you're asking ! Officially, very much.
Too much, / should say. And too much is just the
same as the other thing, I think. Would you like
Anita for your bosom friend ? "
Naturally I said —
" Anita's been very kind to me." Anita's my
cousin, after all. I didn't like the Baxter girl's tone.
' Oh, she's been kind to me." The Baxter girl
i. EG 1: x i)
eaught nio up quickly. She was like a sensitive
plant for all her Crudity. ' Oh, I admire Anita.
She's tin- finest judge of style in England. Jasper
Flood says so. You mustn't think I say a word
againsl Anita. Very kind to me she's been."
Then, innocently, but her eyes were flickering again
— " She was kind to Madala too, till "
" Well ? " I demanded.
" Till Madala was kind to her. Madala's one of
those big people. She'll never forget what she owes
Anita — what Anita told her she owed her. After
she made her own name, she made Anita's. Anita,
being Anita, doesn't forget that."
" How d'you mean — made Anita's name? "
" Well, look at the people who come here —
the people who count. What do you think the draw
was? Anita? Oh yes, now. But they came first
for Madala. Oh, those early days when Eden
Walls was just out ! Of course Anita had sense
for ten. She ran Madala for all she was worth."
" Then you do like Madala Grey? "
"I?" The Baxter girl looked at me oddly.
" She read my book. She wrote to me. That 's why
Anita took me up. She let me come to the Nights.
She started them, you know. Somebody reads a
story or a poem, and then it's talk till the milkman
comes. Good times ! But now Madala's married
she doesn't come often. Anita carries on like grim
death, of course. But it's not the same. Last
month it was dreary."
" Is it every month ? "
" Yes. It's tomorrow again. Tomorrow's Sun-
day, isn't it ? It'll amuse you. You'll come, of
course, as you're in the house."
"Will she? Herself?" I found myself repro-
ducing the Baxter girl's eagerness.
" Not now." The common voice had deepened
queerly. " She's very ill." She hesitated. "That's
why I came today. I thought Anita might have
heard. Not my business, of course, but "
She made an awkward, violent gesture with her
hands. " Oh, a genius oughtn't to marry. It's
wicked waste. Well, so long ! See you tomorrow
night ! "
She left me abruptly.
I found myself marking time, as it were, all
through that morrow, as if the evening were of great
importance. The Baxter girl was always unsettling,
or it may have been Anita's restlessness that affected
me. Anita was on edge. She was writing, writing,
all the morning. She was at her desk when I came
down. There was a mass of packets and papers
in front of her and an empty coffee cup. I believe
she had been writing all night. She had that white
look round her eyes. But she didn't need any
typing done. Early in the afternoon she went out
and at once Great -aunt, in her corner, put down her
knitting with a little catch of her breath. But she
didn't talk : she sat watching the door. I had
been half the day at the window, fascinated by the
L E C E N D
I'd never seen a London fog before. I found
myself writing a letter in my head to Mother aboul
it, aboul the way it would change from Mark to
yellow and then clear off to let in daylight and
sparrow-talk and I lie I ramp-tramp of feel . and I lien
back again to silence, and the sun like a 1>;i II t bat yon
could reach up to with your hand and hold. I was
deep in my description — and then, of a sudden, I
remembered thai she wasn't there to write to any
more. It was s () hard to remember always that she
was dead. I got up quickly and went to Anita's
shelves for a book. Great-aunt hadn't noticed
anything. She was still watching the door.
The little back room that opened on to the stair-
case was lined to the ceiling with books, all so tidy
and alphabetical. Anita lived for books, but I
used to wonder why. She didn't love them. Her
books never opened friendlily at special places, and
t hey hadn't the proper smell. I ran my finger along
the ' G's ' and pulled out Eden Walls.
I began in the middle of course. One always
falls into the middle of a real person's life, and a
book is a person. There's always time to find out
their beginning afterwards when you've decided to
be friends. It isn't always worth while. But it
was with Eden Walls. I liked the voice in which
the story was beinL r told. Soon I began to feel
happier. Then I began to feel excited. It said
things I'd always thought, you know. It was
extraordinary that it knew how I felt about things.
There's a bit where the heroine comes to town and
the streets scare her, because they go on, and on,
and on, always in straight lines, like a corridor in a
dream. Now how did she know of that dream ? I
turned back to the first page and began to read
When Anita's voice jerked me back to real life
it was nearly dark. She was speaking to Great-aunt
as she took off her wraps —
" The fog's confusing. I had to take a taxi to
the tube. A trunk call is an endless business."
" Well ? " said Great -aunt.
" Nothing fresh."
"Did he answer?"
"Was he ? Is she ? Did you ask ?
What did he tell you, Anita ? "
Anita stabbed at her hat with her long pins. She
" The usual details. He spares you nothing.
Have you had tea, Mother ? " She rang the bell.
Great-aunt beat her hand on the arm of her chair
in a feeble, restless way. W T hen I brought her tea
she said to me in her confidential whisper —
" Give it to my daughter. She's tired. She'll
tell us when she's not so tired."
She settled herself again to watch ; but she
watched Anita, not the door.
And in a few minutes Anita did say, as the Baxter
girl had said —
" Shc\ very ill." And then — " I always told you
we ought to have a telephone. 1 can't be running
out all t he evening."
1 Do they come tonight ? " said Great-aunt Serle.
Anita answered her eoldly —
M They do. Why not?"
M Why not? Why not? Listen, little Jenny ! "
Anita, as usual, was quite patient.
" Mother, you mustn't excite yourself. Jenny,
give Mother some more tea. What good would it
do Madala to upset my arrangements'.'' Besides,
Kent will have the latest news. I think you may
trust him." She gave that little laugh that was
Great-aunt's titter grown musical. Then she turned
" By the way, Jenny, I expect friends tonight.
You needn't change, as you're in mourning. You'll
see to the coffee, please. We'll have the door open
and the coffee in the little room. You might do it
now while I dress."
The big drawing-room was divided from the little
outer room by a curtained door. It was closed in
the day-time for cosiness' sake, but when it was
flung back the room was a splendid one. The small
room held the books and a chair or two, and a
chesterfield facing the door that opened on to the
passage and the narrow twisting stairs. They were
so dark that Anita kept a candle and matches in
the hall; but one seldom troubled to light it. It
was quicker to fumble one's way. Anita used to
long for electric light; but she would not install
it. Anita had good taste. The house was old, and
old-fashioned it should stay.
I fastened back the door and re-arranged the
furniture, and was sitting down to Eden Walls
again when Great-aunt beckoned me.
" Go and dress, my dear ! "
" But Anita said " I began.
She held me by the wrist, all nods and smiles and
" The pretty dress — to show a pretty throat —
isn't there a pretty dress somewhere? I know!
Put it on. Put it on. What a white throat !
I've a necklace somewhere — but then Anita would
know. Mustn't tell Anita ! "
She pulled me down to her with fumbling, shaky
" Tell me, Jenny, where' s my daughter? "
" Upstairs, Auntie."
"Tell me, Jenny — any news? Any news,
I didn't know what to say to her. I was afraid
of hurting her. She was so shaking and pitiful.
" Is it about Miss Grey, Auntie? "
" Carey, Jenny — Carey. Mrs. John Carey. Good
name. Good man. But Anita don't like him.
Anita won't tell me. You tell me, Jenny ! "
" Auntie, it's all right. It's all right. She'll tell
you, of course, when she hears again." And I
soothed her as will as I could, till sin let me loosen
her hand from my wrist, and kiss ber, and start her
at her knitting again, so thai 1 could finish making
ready the room. But as 1 went to wash my hands
she called to me once more.
" Yes, Auntie?"
" Put it on, Jenny. Don't ask my daughter. Put
She was a queer old woman. She made me waul
to cry sometimes. She was so frightened always,
and yet so game.
But I went upstairs after supper and put on the
frock she liked. Black, of course, but with Moth fa
lace fichu I liked myself in it too. I did my hair
high. I don't know why I took so much trouble
except that I wanted to cheer myself up. It had
been a depressing day in spite of Eden Walls. I
looked forward to the stir of vis jrs. And then I
was curious to see Kent Rehan.
When I came down the Baxter girl was already
there, standing all by herself at the lire. She was
strikingly dressed; but she looked stranded. I
wondered if Anita had been snubbing her.
Anita was shaking hands with Mr. Flood and with
a lady whom 1 had not seen before. She was
blonde, with greenish-golden hair and round eyes,
very black eyes that had no lights in them, not even
when she smiled. She often smiled. She had a
drawling voice and hardly spoke at all, except to
Mr. Flood. If he talked to anyone else or walked
away from her, she would watch him for a minute,
and then say — ' Jasper ' with a sort of purr, not
troubling to raise her voice. But he always heard
and came. She wore a wonderful Chinese shawl,
white, with gold dragons worked on it, and whenever
she moved it set the dragons crawling. She was
powdered and red-lipped like a clown, and I didn't
really like her, but nevertheless there was something
about her that was queerly attractive. When she
smiled at me because I gave her coffee, I felt quite
elated. But I didn't like her. Mr. Flood called
her ' Blanche.' I never heard her other name.
Anita seemed very pleased to see them. I caught
" Am so glad — one's friends about one— such a
strain waiting for news. I phoned this afternoon.
No, the usual phrases. Anxious, of course, but 1
should certainly have heard if Good of you to
come ! No chance of the Whitneys, I'm afraid —
too much fog. And what are you reading to us? "
The Baxter girl, as I greeted her, stripped and
re-dressed me with one swift look.
" My dear, it suits you ! I wish I could look
Victorian. But I'm vile in black. Have you seen
Lila? I met her on the step. They've turned down
Sir Fortinbras in America. Isn't it rotten luck?
Anita said they would. Anita's always right.
Any more news of Madala? "
Anita overheard her. She was suddenly gracious
to the Baxter girl.
!. EG E X 1)
" You may be sure I should always let you km»\\
at once. And what is this I bear about Lila ? Poor
Lila I It's the last chapter, I'm afraid. I advised
h.er from the beginning thai the American public
will not tolt rati- — but dear Lila is a law unto her«
self." And then, as Miss Howe came in — " Lila,
my dear ! How good of you to venture ! A night
like this makes me wonder why I continue in
London. Madala has urged me to move out ever
since No. No news. But Jasper's been
energetic " She circled mazily about them
while I brought the coffee.
" Kent coming?'' said Mr. Flood, fumbling with
Anita shrugged her shoulders.
" Who can account for Kent? It may dawn on
him that he's due here — and again, it may not.
It depends as usual, I suppose, on the new
" Oh yes, there's a new one," recollected the Baxter
" There must be ! He was literally floeculenr
yesterday." Miss Howe chuckled. " That can
only mean one of two things. Art or "
" —the lady ! Who can doubt ? Well, if Carey
doesn't object to his brotherly love continuing, I'm
sure I don't. But I wish it need not involve his
missing his appointments." Mr. Flood eyed his
Anita was instantly all tact.
" Oh, we won't wait. Certainly not. Pull in
to the fire. Now, Jasper ! "
But Miss Howe, as she swirled into Anita's special
chair, her skirts overflowing either arm, abolished
Mr. Flood and his typescript with a movement of
her soft dimply hands.
" Oh, I'm not in the mood even for Jasper's
efforts. I want to let myself go. I want to damn
publishers — and husbands ! Damn them ! Damn
them ! There ! Am I shocking you, Miss Sum-
mer? ' : She smiled at me over their heads. She
was always polite to me. I liked her. She was like
a fat, pink pieony.
" Well, if you take my advice " began Anita.
" My darling, I love you, but I don't want your
advice. I only want one person's advice — ever —
and she has got married and is doing her duty in that
state of life Hence I say — Damn husbands !
I tell you I want Madala to soothe me, and storm at
the injustice of publishers for me, and then — no,
not give me a brilliant idea for the last chapter,
but make me tell her one, and then applaud
me for it. You know, Anita ! " She dug at her
I caught a movement in Great-aunt's corner.
" Coffee, Auntie ? "
She gave me a goblin glance.
" My daughter ! " She had an air of introducing
her triumphantly. " Listen ! She don't like fat
We listened. Anita's voice was mellow with
" Yes indeed. Madala has often said to m<- that
she thought you well worth encouraging."
Miss Howe laughed jollily.
" I admire your articles, Nita. I wilt when you
review me. But you'll never write novels, darling.
You've not the ear. Madala may have said that,
but she didn't say it in that way."
" She certainly said it."
" Some day I'll ask her."
" Some day ! Oh, some day ! " The Baxter girl
was staring at the fire. " Shall we ever get her
" In a year ! Let us give her a year ! ' Mr.
Flood looked up at the lady beside him with a thin
smile. I couldn't bear him. He sat on the floor,
and he called you ' dear lady,' and sometimes he
would take hold of your watch-chain and finger it
as he talked to you. But he was awfully clever,
I believe. He wrote reviews and very dillicult
poetry that didn't rhyme. Anita was generally
mellifluous to him and she quoted him a good deal.
She turned to him with just the same smile —
" Ah, of course ! You've met John Carey too."
" For my sins, dear lady — for my sins."
" Not the same sins, surely," breathed the blonde
"As the virtuous Carey's? Don't be rude to
me ! It's a fact — the man's a churchwarden. He
carries a little tin plate on Sundays ! Didn't you
tell me so, Anita ? No — we give her a year. Don't
we, Anita? "
" But what did she marry him for? " wailed the
They all laughed.
" Copy, dear lady, copy ! " Mr. Flood was
enjoying himself. "Why will you have ideals?
Carey was a new type."
" But she needn't have married him ! " insisted
the Baxter girl. The argument was evidently an
" She, if I read her aright, could have dispensed
with the ceremony, but the churchwarden had his
views. Obviously ! Can't you imagine him — all
whiskers and wedding-ring? "
" But I thought he was clean-shaven ! I thought
he was good-looking!" I sympathized with the
Baxter girl's dismay.
" Ah — I speak in parables "
"You do hate him, don't you?" said Miss
Howe with her wide, benevolent smile. ' Now, I
Mr. Flood flushed into disclaimers, while the
woman beside him looked at Miss Howe with half-
" I ? How could I ? Our orbits don't touch.
I approved, I assure you. An invaluable experience
for our Madala ! A year of wedded love, another
of wedded boredom, and then — a master-piece,
I, EG E N I)
dear people! Madala Grey back to us. a gianfc
refreshed. Gods ! what a book it will I.
' I wonder," said Miss Howe vaguely.
Anita answered her with that queer movemenl <>i
the head thai always reminded me of a pouncing
"' No need ! I've watched Madala Greys career
from the beginning."
" For this I maintain— " Mr. Flood ignored her —
'" Eden Walls and Ploughed Fields may be amazing
(The Resting-place I cut out. It's an indiscretion.
Madala caught napping) but they're prelimin-
aries, dear people ! mere preliminaries, believe
" I sometimes wonder "' Miss Howe made me
think of Saladin's cushion in The Talisman. She
always went on so softly and imperviously with her
own thoughts — " Suppose now, that she's written
herself out, and knows it? "
The Baxter girl gave a little gasp of horrified
L " So the marriage ?"
" An emergency exit."'
But Anita pitied them aloud —
" It shows how little you know Madala, cither
"Does anyone? Do you?"
Anita smiled securely.
" The type's clear, at least.'' Mr. Flood looked
round the circle. His eyes shone. ' Une grande
amoureuse — that I've always maintained. Carey
may be the first — but he won't be the last."
" Is he the first ? How did she come to write The
Resting-place then? Tell me that ! " Anita thrust
at him with her forefinger and behind her, in the
corner, I saw the gesture duplicated.
" So I will when I've read the new book, dear
" If ever it writes itself," Miss Howe underlined
"As to that — I give her a year, as I say. Once
this business is over — " his voice mellowed into kind-
liness — " and good luck to her, dear woman "
" Ah, good luck ! " said Miss Howe and smiled
" Once it's over, I say "
" But she will be all right, won't she? " said the
" I should certainly have been told " began
Miss Howe harangued them —
"Have you ever known Madala Grey fail yet?
She'll be all right. She'll pull it off — triumphantly.
You see ! But as for the book — if it comes "
" When it comes," corrected Mr. Flood.
" What's that? " said Anita sharply.
There was a sound in the passage, a heavy sound
of feet. It caught at my heart. It was a sound
that I knew. They had come tramping up the
stairs like that when they fetched away Mother.
LEG EN I)
Thud — stumble -thud ! I shivered. But as the
steps came nearer they belonged to but one man.
The door opened and the fog and the man entered
togethrr. Everyone turned to him with a queer
long llash of f'aees.
" Kent ! " cried Anita, welcoming him. Then her
voice changed. " Kent ! What's wrong? What
He shut the door behind him and stood, his back
against it, staring at us, like a man stupified.
The Baxter girl broke in shrilly —
" He's wired. He's had a wire ! " She pointed
at his clenched hand.
Then he, too, looked down at his own hand. His
fingers relaxed slowly and a crush of red and grey
paper slid to the floor.
" A son," he said dully.
" Ah ! " A cry from the corner by the fire eased
the tension. Great-aunt Serle was clapping her
hands together. Her face was wrinkled all over
with delight. " The good girl ! The pretty
And a son too ! A little son ! Oh, the good girl ! '
Anita turned on her, her voice like a scourge —
"Be quiet, Mother!" Then— " Well, Kent?
" Well? " he repeated after her.
"Madala? How's Madala f What about Madala
" Dead ! " he said.
Dead. The word fell amongst the group of us
in the circle of lamp-light, like a plummet into a
pool. Dead. For an instant one could hear the
blank drop of it. Then we broke up into gestures
and little cries, into a babel of dismay and concern
and rather horrible excitement.
Instinctively I separated myself from them. It
was neither bad news nor good news to me, but it
recalled to me certain hours, and they — it was as
if they enjoyed the importance of bereavement.
Anita talked. Miss Howe was gulping, and dabbing
at her eyes. The Baxter girl kept on saying —
' Dead ? ' ' Dead ? ' under her breath, and with
that wide nervous smile that you sometimes see on
people's faces when they are far enough away from
laughter. Great-aunt had shrunk into her corner.
I could barely see her. The blonde lady had her
hand on her heart and was panting a little, as if she
had been running, and yet, as always, she watched
Mr. Flood. He had pulled out a note-book and a
fountain-pen and was shaking at it furiously, while
his little eyes flickered from one to another — even
to me. I felt his observance pursue me to the
very edge of the ring of light, and drop again,
baulked by the dazzle, as I slipped past him into the
swinging shadows beyond. It's odd how lamp-
light cuts a room in two : I could see every corner
of the light and shadow alike, and even the outer
room was not too dim for me to move about it
easily; but to those directly under the lamp I
knew I had become all but invisible, a blur among
LEG E N I)
flic other blurs that were curtains and pictures
and chairs. They remembered me as little as,
absorbed and clamorous, thej remembered tin man
who had brOUghl them their news, and then had
brushed his way through question and comment i<>
the deep alcove of the window in the outer room
and there stood, rigid and withdrawn, staring out
through the uncurtained pane at the solid nighl
beyond. I could not see his face, only the outline
of a big and clumsy body, and a hand that twitched
and fumbled at the tassel of the blind.
And all the while Anita, white as paper, was
talking, talking, talking, saying how great the shock
was, and how much Miss Grey had been to her — a
stream of sorrow and self-assertion. It was just
as if she said — ' Don't forget that this is far worse
for me than for any of you. Don't forget '
Hut the others went on with their own thoughts.
"Dead? Gone? It's not possible/' Miss Howe
was all blubbered and deplorable. " What shall we
do without her? "
" Yes— that's it!" The Baxter girl edged-in
her chair to her like a young dog asking for comfort.
'" For that matter, from the point of view of
literature," Anita's voice grated, " she died a year
" It's not possible ! That's what I say — it's not
possible ! ' It was strange how even the Haxter
girl ignored Anita. " Dead ! I can't grasp it.
It's — it's too awful. She was so vivid."
"Awful?' Mr. Flood was biting his fingers.
"Awful? Nothing of the kind. You know that
Holbein cut — no, it's earlier stuff — ' Death and the
Lady,' crude, preposterous. And that's what it
is. Old Bones and Madala Grey? That's not
tragedy, that's farce ! Farce, dear people, farce ! ' :
Then his high tripping voice broke suddenly.
"Dead? Why, she wasn't thirty!"
" She was twenty-six last June," said Anita
finally. " Midsummer Day. I know."
" June ! ' He caught it up. " Just so — June !
Isn't that characteristic? Isn't that Madala all
over ? Of course she was born in June. She would
be. She was June. June
Her lips and her roses yet maiden,
A summer of storm in her eyes "
Miss Howe winced.
" For God's sake don't Swinburnize, Jasper !
She's not your meat. Oh, I want to cry — I want to
cry ! Dead — at twenty-six "
" In child-bed," finished Anita bitterly, and her
voice made it an unclean and shameful end.
Mr. Flood's glance felt its way over her, hatefully.
It never lifted to her face.
" Of course from your point of view, dear
lady " he began, and smiled as he made his
little bow of attention.
I thought him insolent, and so, I believe, did Miss
Howe. She lifted her head sharply and I thought
she would have spoken ; but Anita gave her no time.
L EG EN I)
There was always a sort of thick-skinned valliance
" Oh, but you all know my point of view. She
knew it herself. 1 never concealed it. You know
how I devoted myself — "
"A bye-word, a bye-word!" said Miss Howe
under her breath.
" — but not so much to her as to her gift. I
should never allow a personal sentiment to over-
power me. I haven't the time for it. But she had
the call, she had the gift, and because she had it I
say, as I have always said, that for Madala (Jrey,
" And all it implies " Mr. Flood was still
She accepted it.
" Marriage and all that it implies was apostasy.
I stand for Literature."
" And Literature," with a glance at the others,
" is honoured."
They wearied me. It seemed to me that they
sparked and fizzled and whirred with the sham life
of machinery: and like machinery they affected
me. For at first I could not hear anything but
them, and then they confused and tired me, and
last of all they faded into a mere wall-paper of
sound, and I forgot that they were there, save
that I wondered now and then, as stray sentences
shrilled out of the buzz, that they were not yet
oppressed into silence.
For there was grief abroad — a grief without
shape, without sound, without expression — a quality,
a pulsing essence, a distillation of pure pain. From
some centre it rayed out, it spread, it settled upon
the room, imperceptibly, like the fall of dust. It
reached me. I felt it. It soaked into me. I
ached with it. 1 could not sit quiet. I was not
drawn, I was impelled. Dead — the dull bewildered
voice was still in my ears. That I heard. But it
was statement, not appeal. It was not his suffering
that demanded relief, but some responding capacity
for pain in me that awoke and cried out restlessly
that such anguish was unlawful, beyond endurance,
that still it I must, I must !
I rose. I looked round me. Then I went very
softly into the outer room.
He was still standing at the window. The street
lamp, level with the sill, was quenched to a yellow
gloom. It lit up the wet striped branches and dead
bobbins of the plane-tree beside it, and the sickly
undersides of its shrivelled last leaves. I never
thought a tree could look so ghastly. Against that
unnatural glitter and the luminous thick air the
man and the half-drawn curtain stood out in solid,
unfamiliar bulk of black.
I came and stood just behind him. He was so
big that I only reached his shoulder. He may have
heard me : I think he did ; but he did not turn.
I was not frightened of him. That was so queer,
because as a rule I can't talk to strangers. I get
nervous and red, and foolish-tongtied, especially
with men. Of COUTSe I knew all the usual men. tin-
doctor at home, and the church people, and husbands
that came hack by the live-thirty, and now all
Anita's friends, and Mr. Flood; hut I never had
anything to say to them or they to me. Hut with
Kent Rehan, somehow, it was different. He was
different. I never thought—' This is a strange
man/ I never thought — 'He doesn't know me:
it's impertinent to break in upon him : what will
he think? * I never thought of all that. I never
thought about myself at all. I was just passion-
ately desiring to help him and I didn't know how
to do it.
I think I stood there for four or five minutes,
trying to find words, opening my lips, and then
catching back the phrase before a sound came,
because it seemed so poor and meaningless. And
all the while the Baxter girl's words were runninu'
in my head—' They say he was in love with her.'
With her with Madala (.rev. She was the key.
I had the strangest pang of interest in this unknown
woman. Who was she.' What was she? What
had she been? What had she done so to centre
herself in so many, in such alien lives? What had
she in common for them all ? Books, books, books —
I'd never heard of her books ! And she was
married. Yet the loss of her, unpossessed, could
bring such a look (as he turned restlessly from tin
window at last) such a look to Kent Rehan's face.
I was filled with a sort of anger against that dead
woman, and I envied her. I never saw a man look
so — as if his very soul had been bruised. It was not,
it was never, a weak face, and it was not a young
one ; yet in that instant I saw in it, and clearly, its
own forgotten childhood, bewildered by its first
encounter with pain. It was that fleeting look that
touched me so and gave me courage, so that I found
myself saying to him, very low and quickly, and
with a queer authority —
" It won't always hurt so much. It will get
easier. I promise you it will. It does. Truly it
does. In six months — I do know."
He looked down at me strangely.
I went on because I had to, but it was difficult.
It was desperately difficult. I could hear myself
blundering and stammering, and using hateful
slangy phrases that I never used as a rule.
" I had to tell you. It isn't cheek. I know — it
hurts like fun. It'll be worst out of doors. You
see them coming, you see them just ahead of you,
and then it isn't them. But it won't always hurt
so horribly. I promise you. One manages. One
gets used to living with it. I know."
He looked at my black dress.
" No. Mother."
He said no more. But he did not go away from
me. We stood side by side at the window.
The voices in the other room insisted themselves
into my mind again, against my will, like t he t ickin<,'
of a clock in tin- night. I was thinking about him.
not them. Bui Anita called to me to put coal on
tin; lire and. once among them, I did not like to go
back to him again.
They had re-grouped themselves at the hearth.
Miss Howe was in the chair with the chintz cover
that was as pink and white and blue-ribboned
as she herself. The Baxter girl crouched on the
pouf ami the fire-light danced over her by iits
and starts till, what with her violet dress and her
black boy's head with the green band in it and
that orange glow upon her, she looked like one
of the posters in the Tube. The blonde lady had
pushed back her chair to the edge of the lamp-light,
so that her face was a blur and her white dress
yellow-grey. Her knees made a back for Mr. Flood
sitting cross-legged at her feet, and watching the
Baxter girl as if he admired her. Once the blonde
lady put her hand on his shoulder, and he caught it
and played with the rings on it while he listened to
her, and yet still watched the Baxter girl. She went
on whispering, her hand in his, till at last he put
back his head and caught her eye and laughed.
Then she leaned back again as if she were satisfied.
But I thought — ' How I should hate to have that
dank hair rubbing against my skirt.' Beside Mr.
Flood lay the MS. he had brought, but I think
Anita had forgotten it. She, sitting at the table
in her high-backed chair (she never lolled), was still
talking, indeed they were all talking about this
Madala Grey. Anita's voice was as pinched as her
" Oh, I knew from the first what it would be !
She could never do anything by halves. She had
no moderation. The writing, the work, all that
made her what she was, tossed aside, for a whim,
for a madness, for a man. I can't help it — it makes
"Do you grudge it her so?" The Baxter girl
looked at her wonderingly. " I kicked at it too,
of course. We all did, didn't we? But now, I
like to think how happy she looked the last time she
came here. Do you remember? I liked that blue
frock. And the scarf with the roses — I gave her
that. Liberty. She was thin though. She always
worked too hard. Poor Madala ! Heigh-ho, the
gods are jealous gods."
Anita stared in front of her.
" Just gods. She served two masters. She was
bound to pay."
" You are hard," said the Baxter girl in a low
Miss Howe rocked herself.
" But don't you know how she feels ? I do.
It's the helplessness "
Anita's pale eye met and held her glance as if
she resented that sympathy. Then, as if indeed
she were suddenly grown weak, she acquiesced.
' I suppose so. Yes, it's the helplessness. ' If
this didn't happen 1 — 'If thai wreren'1 so' Little
things, little things — and they govern one. A hroken
doll — a cowslip ball— stronger than all my strength.
And she needn't have met Carey. It was just a
chance. If I'd known — that day ! I used to ask
her questions, just to make her talk. I remember
asking her about her old home — more to set her off
than anything. I said I'd like to see it some day.
It was true. I was interested. But it was only
to make her talk. But she — oh, you know how she
foamed up about a thing. k My old home ! Would
you, Anita? Would you like to come? Wouldn't
it bore you, Anita? It's all spoiled, you know.
But I go down now and then. Nobody remembers
me. It's like being a ghost. Oh, I feel for ghosts.
Would you really like to come? Shall we go soon?
Shall we go today ? ' And then, of course, down
we go. And then we meet Carey. And then the
Miss Howe shook her head.
Anita accepted it.
" Ends. Then the play ends. " And then, frown-
ing — " If I'd known that day — if I'd known ! I
was warned, too. That's strange I've never
thought of it from that day to this. If I were an
old wife now " She shivered.
" What happened ? " said the Baxter girl curiously.
" Oh well, off we went ! We had a carriage to
ourselves. I was glad. I thought she might talk."
" And you always tried to make her talk,' : said
Miss Howe softly.
Anita went on without answering her.
" She grew quite excited as we travelled down,
talking about her ' youth.' She always spoke as
if she were a hundred."
" She put something into that youth of hers, I
shouldn't wonder," said Miss Howe.
" She did. The things she told me that day.
I knew she had been in America, but I never
dreamed She landed there, if you please,
without a penny in her pocket, without a friend in
" I never understood why she went to America,"
said Miss Howe. " I asked her once."
" What did she say ? " said Anita curiously.
" To make her fortune. But I never got any
details out of her."
" Didn't you know? " said Anita. " Her people
emigrated. The father failed. It happened when
Madala was eighteen, and she and her mother
persuaded him, expecting him, literally, to make
their fortunes. The mother seems to have been an
erratic person. Irish, I believe. Beautiful. Ex-
travagant. I have always imagined that it was
her extravagance — but Madala and the husband
seem to have adored her. I remember Madala
saying once that her father had been born unlucky,
' except when he married Mother ! ' I suspect,
myself, that that was the beginning of his ill-luck.
Anyhow, when the crash came, they gathered
together what they had and started off on some
romantic notion of the mother's to make their for-
tune farming. America. Steerage. The Sylvania."
" Sylvaniaf That's familiar. What was it?
A collision, wasn't it?"
" No, that was the Empress of Peru. The Syl-
vania caught fire in mid-ocean — a ghastly business.
There were only about fifty survivors. Both her
people were drowned."
" Oh, that's what she meant," began Miss Howe,
" that time at the Academy. We were looking at
a storm-scape, and she said — ' People don't know.
It's not like that. They wouldn't try to paint it
if they knew.' She was quite white. Of course I
never dreamed Poor old Madala ! Well, what
" Oh, she reached America in what she stood
up in. There was a survivors' fund, of course,
but money melts in a city when you're strange
" Couldn't she have come back to England ? "
" I believe she had relations over here, but her
mother had quarrelled with them all in turn. They
didn't appreciate her mother and that was the
unforgivable sin for Madala. She'd have starved
sooner than ask them to help her. I shouldn't
wonder if she did, too ! — half starve anyway. I
shouldn't wonder if those first bare months haven't
revenged themselves at last."
" Oh, if one had known ! " began the Baxter
girl. " How is it that no-one ever knows — or
" You ? You were a schoolgirl. Who had heard
of her in those days ? But she made friends. There
was a girl, a journalist, who had been sent to inter-
view the survivors. She seems to have helped her
in the beginning. She found her a lodging — oh,
can't you see how she uses that lodging in Eden
Walls ? — and gave her occasional hack jobs, typing,
and now and then proof-reading. Then she got
some work taken, advertisement work, little articles
on soaps and scents and face-creams that she used
to illustrate herself. She was comically proud of
them. She kept them all."
" I suppose in her spare time she was already
working at Eden Walls ? "
" No. I asked her. And she said— ' Oh no, I
was too miserable. Oh, Anita, I was miserable.'
And then she began again telling funny stories about
her experiences. No, she was back in England before
she began Eden Walls. However, she seems to have
made quite a little income at last, even to have
saved. And then, just when she began to see her
way before her to a sort of security, then she threw
it all up and came home."
Just like Madala ! But why ? "
Heaven knows ! Home-sick, she said."
But she hadn't got a home ! "
It was England — the English country — the
L E G E N I)
south country — the Westering Hill country. She
used to talk about it like — like a lover/'
" IsnM that more probable? " said Mr. Flood.
" Carey? "
" Not necessarily Carey."
Anita looked at him with a certain approval.
"Ah — so you've thought of that too? Now
what exactly do you base it on? "
He shrugged and smiled.
" Delightfullest — my thoughts arc thistledown."
" But you have your theory? ' She pinned him
down. " I see that you too have your theory."
" Our theory." He bowed.
" You've got wits, Jasper."
"What are you two driving at?' Miss Howe
" We're evolving a theory — a theory of Madala
Grey. Who lived in the south country, Anita ''.
" Carey, for that matter."
" Matters not. She didn't come home for Carey.
You can't make books without copy. Not her
sort of book. Any more than you can make bricks
without straw. But she didn't make her bricks
from his straw, that I'll swear."
" No, she didn't come home for Carey," said Anita.
" I tell you, that was the day she met him. It's
barely a year ago. She had made her name twice
over by then. She was already casting about for
her third plot. I think it was that that made her
so restless. She'd grown very restless. But she
certainly didn't come home for Carey."
" That's absurd."
" I'm telling you what she said. She insisted on
it. She used a queer phrase. She said — ' I longed
for home till my lips ached.' "
The lady with Mr. Flood stirred in her shadows.
" She didn't imagine that. That happens. That
is how one longs " She broke off.
"For home?" he said, with that smile of his
that ended at his mouth and left his eyes like chips
She answered him slowly, him only —
" I suppose, with some women, it could be for
home. If she says so That is what confounds
one in her. She knows — she proves that she
knows, in a phrase like that, things that (when
one thinks of her personality) she can't know —
couldn't know. It's inexplicable. ' Till one's lips
ache ' — Oh, Lord ! " She laughed harshly.
Anita looked at them uncertainly.
" Well, that's what she said. And to judge from
her description Westering was something to be
homesick for. I expected a paradise."
" Westering? That's quite a town."
" Yes, I know. There's a summer colony.
Madala mourned over it. She was absurd. She
L E G E N D
raced me out of the station and up the hill, and
would scarcely let me look about me till we wire
:it the top, because the lower end of* the village had
been built over. It might have been the Back of
Home to hear her — 'Asphalt paths! Disgraceful!
The grocer used to have blue blinds. They've
spoiled the village green.' And so it went on until
we readied Upper Westering."
" Oh, where they live now? "
k Yes. And then she turned to me and beamed —
This is my country.'' It certainly is a pretty place.
There's a fine view over the downs; but too hilly
for me. We climbed up and down lanes and picked
ridiculous bits of twig and green stuff till I pro-
tested. Then she took me into the churchyard.
We wandered about : very pleasant it was : such
a hot spring day, and pretty pinkish flowers — what
did she call the stuff? — cuckoo-pint, springing from
the graves — and daffodils. Then we sat down in
the shadow of the church to eat our lunch. We
began to discuss architecture and I was growing
interested, really beginning to enjoy myself — some
of it was prc-Xorman — when a man climbed over
the stile from the field behind the church, and came
down the path towards us. As he passed, Madala
looked up and he looked down, and up she jumped
in a moment. ' Why,* she said, * I do believe — I
do believe — ' You know that little chuckly rise in
her voice when she's pleased — ' I do believe it's
you ! ' ' Oh, Madala,' I said, ' the sandwiches ! ! '
They were in a paper on her lap, you know. She
had scattered them right and left. But I might
have talked to the wind. I must say he had per-
fectly respectable manners. He turned back at
once, and smiled at her, and hesitated, and began
to pick up the sandwiches, though he evidently
didn't know her. ' Oh,' she said, ' don't you
remember? Aren't you Dr. Carey? You mended
my camel when I was little. I'm Madala ! ' She
was literally brimming over with pleasure. But,
you know, such a silly way to put it ! If she had
said ' Madala Grey ' he would have known in a
moment. There were a couple of Eden Walls on
the bookstall as we went through. I saw them.
However, he remembered her then. He certainly
seemed pleased to see her, in his awkward way.
He stood looking down at her, amused and inter-
ested. People always got so interested in Madala.
Haven't you noticed it? Even people in trams.
Though I thought to myself at the time — ' How
absurd Madala is ! What can they have in com-
mon? ' Yes, I thought it even then."
" Well, what had they in common? "
" Heaven knew ! She was ten and he was twenty-
five when they last met. He knew her grand-
people : he had mended her dolls for her : he lived
in her old home : that, according to her, was all
that mattered. She said to me afterwards, I
remember, ' Just imagine seeing him ! I was
pleased to see him. He belongs in, you know.'
I, EG EN I)
' No, Madala,' 1 said, ' I don't know. Such a fuss
about a man you haven't seen since you w< re a
child ! I call it affectation. It's a slight on your
real friends.' ' Oh,' she said, ' but he belongs in.'
She looked quite chastened. She said — l Nita, it
wasn't affectation. I believe he was pleased too —
honestly!' He was. Who wouldn't be? You
know the effect she used to make."
" What did he say? " asked the Baxter girl.
" Oh, he looked down at her as if he were shy.
Then he said — ' You've a long memory, Madala ! '
Yes, he called her Madala from the first. It annoyed
me. She said — ' Oh, do you remember when
Mother was so ill once? You were very kind to
me then.' Then she said something which amazed
me. I'd known her for two years before she told
me anything about that Syh ania tragedy, but to
him she spoke at once. ' They're dead,' she said,
1 Mother and Father. They're drowned. There
isn't anyone.' But her voice ! It made me quite
nervous. I thought she was going to break down.
He said, with a stiff sort of effort — ' Yes. I heard.'
That was all. Nothing sympathetic. He just
stood and looked at her."
" Well? " said Miss Howe impatiently.
" Oh — nothing else. I finished picking up the
sandwiches. She introduced me, but I don't think
he realized who I was. It annoyed me very much
that she insisted on his eating lunch with us. As
I said to her afterwards, it wasn't suitable. Buns
in a bag ! But there he sat on a damp stone,
(he gave Madala his overcoat to sit upon) perfectly-
contented. I confess I wasn't cordial. But he
noticed nothing. Obtuse ! That was how I summed
him up from the first — obtuse ! And no conversa-
tion whatever. Madala did the talking. I believe
she asked after every cat and dog for twenty miles
round. And her lack of reticence to a compara-
tive stranger was amazing. She told him more
about herself in half an hour than she had told
me in four years. But she was an unaccountable
" Yes, that's just it. One never knew what
Madala would do next, and yet when she'd done it,
one said — ' Of course ! Just what Madala would
do ! ' But it wasn't like her to neglect you, Nita ! '
" Oh, she noticed after a time. She began to
be uncomfortable. I — withdrew myself, as it were.
You know my way. She didn't like that. She
tried — I will say that for her — she did try to direct
the conversation towards my subjects. Useless,
of course. He was, not illiterate — no, you can't
say illiterate — but curiously unintellectual. Social-
ism now — somehow we got on to socialism. That
roused him. I must say, though he expressed him-
self clumsily, that he had ideas. But so limited.
He had never heard of Marx. Bernard Shaw was
barely a name to him. Socialism — his socialism —
when we disentangled it, was only another word
for the proper feeding of the local infants — drains —
measles — the village schools. Beyond thai he was
mute, Bui M.ul.il.i chimed in with details of
American .slum life, ami roused him at once. They
grew quite eloquent. Hut not one word, if you
please, of her own work. Anything and every-
thing but her work. He did ask her what she was
doing. ' Oh,' said she in an offhand way, ' I
scribble. Stories.' And then — ' It earns money,
and it kills time.' Yes, that's exactly how she put
it. ' Madala ! ' I said, ' that's not the spirit — '
I'd never heard her use such a tone before. She
had sucli high ideals of art. It jarred me. I
thought that she ought to have known better. Hut
she looked at me in such a curious way defiant
almost. She said — ' It's my own spirit, Nita. Oh,
let me have a holiday ! ' And at that up she
jumped and left us sitting there, and wandered off
to the stile and was over it in a second. We sat
still. The hedge hid her. Then we heard her
call — ' Cowslips ! Oh, cowslips ! ' I thought he
would go when she called, but he sat where he
was, listening. It was one of those hot, still days,
you know. There was a sort of spell on things.
There were bees about. We heard a cart roll up
the road. I wanted to get up and talk, make some
kind of diversion, and yet I couldn't. Wc heard
her call again — ' Hundreds of cowslips ! I'm going
to make a cowslip ball.' Her voice sounded far
away, but very clear. And there was a scent of
may in the air, and dust — an intoxicating smell.
It made me quite sleepy. It was just as if time
stood still. Three o'clock's a drowsy time, I sup-
pose. And he never stirred — just sat there stupidly.
But I was too sleepy to be bored with him. Pre-
sently back she came. She had picked up her skirt
and her petticoat showed — it was that lavender
silk you gave her, Lila. So unsuitable, you know,
on those dirty roads. And her skirt was full of
cowslips. She was just a dark figure against the
sky until she was close to us ; but then, I thought
that she looked pretty, extremely pretty. Bright
cheeks, you know, and her eyes so blue "
" Grey — " said Mr. Flood, " the grey eyes of a
" They looked blue, and she didn't look like a
goddess. She looked like a little girl. Well, there
she stood, with her grey skirt and her lavender silk,
and her coAvslips — you know they have a sweet
smell, cowslips, a very sweet smell — and tumbled
them all down on the tombstone. Then she wanted
string. Carey seemed to wake up at that. He'd
been looking at her as if he had dreamed her. He
produced string. He was that sort of man. Then
she made her cowslip ball. I held one end of the
string and he held the other, and she nipped the
stalks off the flowers and strung them athwart it.
That is the way to make a cowslip ball."
" Nita, I love you ! " cried Miss Howe for the
second time, and the others laughed.
She stopped. She stiffened.
" I don't know what you mean."
" Ne' mind ! Goon!"
She said offendedly —
" There's nothing more to tell. We got up and
But as we sat silently by, still waiting, the story-
teller crept bark into her face.
" Oh, yes — " up went her forefinger. " It was
then that it happened. We went stumbling over
the graves, round to the east end, to see the lepers'
window, a particularly interesting one. Kuskin
mentions it. Yes, Carey came with us. There's
a little bit of bare lawn under the window before
the stones begin again, and as we crossed it Madala
gave a kind of shuddering start. He said — ' Cold ? '
smiling at her. She shivered ;it_ r ain, in spite of her-
self as it were, for she"d been joking and laughing,
and said — ' Someone must be walking over my
grave.' And at that he gave her such a look, and
said loudly in a great rough voice — ' Rubbish ! don't
talk such rubbish ! ' Really, you know, the tone !
And I thought to myself then as I've thought many
times since — ' At heart the man's a bully — that's
what the man is.' But Madala laughed. We
didn't stay long after that. The window was a
disappointment — restored. There was nothing
further to see and Madala was quite right — it was
chilly. The sky had clouded over and there was
a wind. I thought it time to go. Madala made
no objection. She had grown curiously quiet. She
tired easily, you know. And he didn't say another
word. Quite time to go. I thought we might try
for the earlier train, so we went off at last in a
hurry. No, he didn't come with us : we shook
hands at the gate. And when I looked back a
minute later he had turned away. We caught our
There was a little pause that Miss Howe ended.
" Queer ! " she said.
Anita stared at them. Her hands twitched.
" Oh, I'm a practical person, but — ' You're
walking on my grave,' she said. And there or
thereabouts, I suppose, she'll lie."
" Coincidence," said Mr. Flood quickly.
" Of course. I never thought of it again. Nor
did Madala for that matter, though she was quiet
enough in the train. There she sat, looking out of
the window and smiling to herself. But then she
was always like that after any little excitement,
very quiet for an hour, re-living it — literally. I
think, you know," she hesitated, " that that was
the secret of her genius. Her genius was her
memory. She liked whate'er she looked on "
" And her looks were certainly everywhere," said
the blonde lady in her drawling voice.
" Just so. But it didn't end there. She remem-
bered. She remembered uncannily. She was like
a child picking up pebbles from the beach every
holiday, and spending all the rest of its year polish-
ing. She turned them into jewels. The process
LEG EN 1)
used to fascinate me professionally, you know.
You could see her mind ;it work on some trifling
incident, fidgeting with it, twisting it, dropping it,
picking it up again, till one wearied. And then a
year later, or two years, or three years, or ten years
maybe, you'll pick up a novel or a story, and there
you'll find it, cut, graved, polished, set in diamonds,
but — the same pebble, if one has the wit to see."
"Well, what did she say?" Miss Howe cut
through the theory impatiently.
Anita frowned. She disliked being hurried.
" Oh, that day ? very little. I was surprised.
She usually enjoyed pouring herself out to me. But
no, she just sat and smiled. It irritated inc. 'What
is it, Madala? ' I said at last. She stared at me as
if she had never seen me before. ' I don't know,'
she said in her vague way. And then — ' Wasn't it
a lovely day?' I waited. I knew she would go
on sooner or later. Presently she said — ' That stone
we sat on was damp. He was quite right.' Then
she said, thinking aloud as it were — ' You know,
if a man has a really pleasant voice, I like it better
than women's voices. It's so steady.' And then —
' What did you think of him, Anita? ' "
Miss Howe chuckled.
" And you said?"
" Oh, I said what I oould. I didn't want to hurt
her feelings. It was so obvious that the place and
everyone in it was beglamoured for her. I said
that he seemed a worthy, harmless person, or some-
thing to that effect. I forget exactly how I phrased
it — I was tactful, of course. Oh, I remember, I said
that she ought to put him into a book — that the old
country doctors were disappearing, like the farmers
and the parsons. I'm sure I appeared interested.
But all she said was—' Old ? He : s not old. Would
you call him old ? ' « That was a figure of speech,'
I said. ' I was thinking of the type. But all the
same you can't describe him as young, Madala.'
' Oh, he's not a boy,' she said. ' No-one ever said
he was a boy' She didn't say any more. But just
as we were getting out at Victoria she cried — ' My
cowslips ! Anita, my cowslips ! I've forgotten my
cowslip ball.' I told her that it wouldn't have
lasted anyway, with the stalks nipped off so short.
But she looked as if she had lost a kingdom."
" I believe I know that cowslip ball." Miss
Howe looked amused. " A cowslip ball, anyway.
She had one sent to her once when I was there.
I thought it was from her slum children."
' Yes, he sent it on." My cousin went on quickly
with her own story. " How he knew the address
puzzled me. Her publishers wouldn't have given
it and I know she didn't."
" Telephone book," said the Baxter girl, as one
' Ah, possibly. I went round to her that morn-
ing, and — yes, you were there, Lila," she conceded,
'for I remember I wondered how Madala could
compose herself to work with anyone else in the
room. I always left her to herself when she stayed
" She didn't mind me," said Miss Howe firmly.
"She always said that she didn't, I know. And
of course I know that it is possible to withdraw
oneself as it were, but I confess I disapproved. Hei
room was a regular clearing-house in those days.
Oh, not yon particularly, Lila, but "
" You came in yourself that morning, didn't
you? " said Miss Howe very softly and sweetly.
"I was telling you so. And what did I find?
Her desk littered over with string and paper and
moss and damp cardboard, and that story Hooper
published (it had been freshly typed only the day
before) watering into purple under my eyes, while
she sat and gloated over those wretched flowers.
' Madala ! ' I said, ' your manuscript ! Really,
Madalal " '
" And Madala — " Miss Howe began to laugh —
" Oh, I remember now."
" What did Madala say? " demanded the Baxter
"It wasn't like her."' Anita fidgeted. "She
knew how I disliked the modern manner."
" But she said," Miss Howe caught it up —
" I don't know what possessed her," said my
cousin with a rush. "She actually stamped her
foot at me. Yes, she did, and then held out her
wretched posy and said — ' Oh, damn the manu-
script, Nita ! Smell ! ' "
" What did Nita do? " enquired the blonde lady
softly of Miss Howe.
" Sniffed," Mr. Flood struck in. " Obviously !
Satisfied Madala and relieved her own feelings.
That is called tact."
" And just then, you know," Miss Howe glanced
over her shoulder and lowered her voice, " he came
" Kent ? " The lady with Mr. Flood did not
lower her voice. I believe she wanted him to hear.
She was like a curious child poking at a hurt beastie.
Her smile was infantine as she looked across at
him. But the man at the window never stirred.
" Sh ! " Miss Howe frowned at her. And then,
still whispering — " Yes, don't you remember? he
had his studio in the same block all that year. He
always came across to Madala when he wanted a
sardine tin opened, or change for his gas, or someone
to sit to him."
" Someone was saying that he couldn't keep a
model." Mr. Flood glanced at them in turn.
Miss Howe flushed surprisingly.
" It's not that. You ought to know better,
Jasper. It's only that he's exigeant — never knows
how the time goes, and — " she lowered her voice
still more, " and Madala spoilt him. She could sit
by the hour looking like a Madonna, and getting all
her own head-work done, and never stirring a hair.
Of course he doesn't like the shilling an hour type
"I know, 1 know! The explanation is quite
unnecessary."' He smiled and waved his hand.
"Then why ?" She was still (lushed and
" One gets at other people's views. I merely
wondered how the — er — partnership appeared to
your — er — intelligence. Now I know."
" She did spoil him." Anita disregarded them.
" The time she wasted on him ! In he came, you
know, that day, and she went to meet him with the
cowslips still in her hand, and shielding her eyes
from the sun. That room of hers got all the morning
"What did she wear— the blue dress?" The
Baxter girl was like a child being told a story.
" I forget. Anyway he stood looking her up and
down till she reddened and began to laugh at him.
And then he said — ' And cowslips too ! What luck !
Come along ! Come along ! ' ' Oh, my good man ! '
I said, ' she's in the middle of her writing ! ' But
it was useless to expostulate. He wanted her and
so she went. I heard him as he dragged her off.
1 Madala, I've got such a notion ! ' No, it was the
great fault of her character, I consider, that she
could never deny anyone, not even for her work's
sake. Still, I suppose one had to forgive it in that
case, for that was the beginning, you know, of
The Spring Song. She is painted just as she stood
there that morning, literally gilded over with sun-
shine, and the flowers in her hands."
"It's the best thing he's ever done, isn't it?"
said the Baxter girl.
" Best thing? It's a master-piece. It's Madala
" When is he going to show it? " said Mr. Flood.
" Heaven knows ! He insists that it isn't finished.
I believe he sits and prays over it. He Mas annoyed
that Madala took me there one day. You know
how touchy he is."
" He won't show it now," said the blonde lady.
"Why not? Why not?" Anita hovered, on the
pounce, like a cat over a bowl of goldfish, and
like a fish the blonde lady glided out of reach.
" And she asks ! " she appealed to the others.
" You're cryptic."
"Well, wasn't there a certain — rivalry? You
should have a fellow-feeling."
" Oh — " she resented quickly, " Kent always
wanted to keep her to himself, if you mean that."
The blonde lady smiled.
" And now he keeps her to himself. I mean just
that. I go by your account, of course. / haven't
glimpsed The Spring Song.''''
" So that started it." The Baxter girl mused
aloud. " I think that's romantic now — to make a
famous picture and to pick up one's husband, all
in twenty-four hours."
" ' Pick up ! ' "
" You kn<>\v what I mean — fall in love."
■ • Fall in love!'"
"Nita, don't trample." Miss Howe threw the
Baxter girl a cigarette.
" I only mean — it was romantic, meeting like
that so long ago and nobody knowing a word until
just before they were married, except you, Miss
Serle. And I don't believe you guessed?" She
questioned her with defiant eyebrows.
"How could I guess what never happened? ' In
love ! ' I suppose it deceived some good folks."
" It wasn't so long ago," Miss Howe soothered
them. She had a funny little way of slipping people
into another subject if she thought that they
sounded quarrelsome. ' Let's be comfortable ! '
was written all over her. And yet she could scratch.
I think that a great many women are like Miss Howe.
" Long ago? Of course not ! " Anita picked it
up at once. " How long is it ? A year ? Eighteen
months? April, wasn't it? She wrote The Rest-
ing-place in the next three months. Scamped. I
shall always say so. She was three years over
Ploughed Fields. Yes, April began it. The Rati -
place was out for the Christmas sales. She married
him at Easter. And now it's November. The
year's not gone. But Madala Grey is gone.''
" Where? " said the Baxter girl intensely.
" Don't ! " said Miss Howe.
But the Baxter girl looked as if she couldn't stop
" We — we put her into the past tense — d'you
notice how easily we're doing it already? — but
— is she less alive to you, less lovable, less Madala
Grey to you, because of a telegram and a funeral
service? is she? "
" No," said Miss Howe. " If you put it like that —
" Yes," said Mr. Flood. " When you put it like
that — yes."
" She must be somewhere," argued the Baxter
girl. " She can't just stop."
"Why not?" said Mr. Flood, with his bored
"She can't. I feel it," she said with her hand
at her heart and her large eyes on him.
" I don't," he said to her, and he lost his smile.
" ' Dust to dust ' "
The woman behind him moved restlessly.
" Jasper, dear ! How trite ! "
"But the spirit?" said the Baxter girl, "the
Nobody answered. The little blue flames on
the hearth capered and said ' Chik-chik ! ' Anita
" The room's getting cold," she said sharply.
And then — " Jenny, is that door open ? There's
such a draught."
I got up and went to see. But the door was
shut. When I came back they were talking again.
Anita was answering the Baxter girl.
" Yes, I stayed there once. A pretty place. The
sort of place she would choose. All roses. No
conveniences. And what with the surgery and the
socialism, the poor seemed to be always with us.
Only one servant "
" She ought to have made money," said Miss Howe.
" Oh, the first two books were a succes d'estime,
I wept over her contract. She did make a con-
siderable amount of money on The Resting-place.
But it was all put by for the child. She told me so.
He, you know, a poor man's doctor 1 She told me
that too — (lung it at me. She had an extravagant
way of talking, manner more than anything, of course,
but to hear her you would almost think she was
proud of the life they led. She was always un-
' I'd like to have gone down there once," said
Miss Howe. " If I'd known — heigh-ho ! '
" I — I wished I hadn't gone," said Anita slowly.
" It wasn't a success."
" The husband, I suppose," the Baxter girl
" No, I hardly saw him. It was Madala herself.
Changed. Affectionate — she was always that to
me but 1 remember sitting with her once. We
had been talking, about Aphra Behn I believe, and
she had grown Hushed and had begun to stammer
a little. You know her way? "
' I know." The Baxter girl leaned forward
" And she was tracing a parallel between the
development of the novel and the growth of the
woman's movement — her old vein. Brilliant, she
was. And all at once she stopped and began staring
in front of her. You know that trick she had of
frowning out her thoughts. I was careful not to
interrupt. I knew something big was coming. She
could be — prophetic, sometimes. At last she said
in a worried sort of way — ' I've a dreadful feeling
that we're out of coffee and it's early closing.' No,
I'm not exaggerating — her very words. And then
some long rigmarole about Carey's appetite, and
that if she made the coffee black strong she could
persuade him to take more milk with it. Oh — pitiful !
And in a moment she'd dashed off on a three-mile
walk to the next village where there was a grocer
that did open on Wednesdays. Oh, it was most
pathetic. It made me realize the effect that he was
having on her — stultifying ! I always did dislike
" Well, I don't know," said Miss Howe.
" Just so — you don't know. Naturally, you were
not so intimate with Madala. Well, that very after-
noon, I remember, he came in at tea-time. That
was unusual : he was generally late for seven-thirty
dinner, and then he didn't change. I used to wonder
how Madala allowed it. Well, as I was telling you,
he came in, stamping through the hall, calling to
her, and when he opened the drawing-room door
and found that she was out, you should have seen
his look! Sour! No other word! And off he
wenl at once to meet her, on his bicycle, though I
was prepared to give him tea. They didn't come
back for hours. In fact I had gone up to change.
I saw them from the window, coming up the drive.
And there was Madala Grey, perched on his bicycle,
with a great bunch of that white parsley that prows
in the hedges, and a string bag dangling down,
while he steadied her, and both of them talking !
and as he helped her off, she kissed him — in front of
the kitchen windows. And, if you please, not a
word of apology to me. All she said was — why
hadn't I seen that he had some tea before he went
after her? I think it's the only time I've ever
seen Madala annoyed. No, you can't say the mar-
riage improved her." She paused. " It was so
unlike her," she meditated, " as if I could help it !
You know, I'd always thought her so considerate.
Carey's influence, of course. Oh," she cried out
suddenly and angrily, " I've got nothing against
Carey. I'm not prejudiced. But if he'd been the
sort of man one could approve — someone — " Her
eye wandered from Kent Rehan to Mr. Flood —
" but he was dragging her down "
Miss Howe shook her head.
" Anita, you're wrong. I've only met him a
couple of times hut I liked what I saw of him.
An honest, straightforward sort of person. Oh,
not clever, of course. He'd have bored me in
a week "
" Ah? " said the woman behind Mr. Flood.
" Oh yes, dull — distinctly. But I had the im-
pression that if I'd been one of his patients I should
have done everything he told me to do."
" Oh, I've no doubt he had every virtue, but
it's idle to pretend that he made any attempt to
appreciate Madala Grey."
" You don't suggest that the man didn't love his
wife, do you ?" said Miss Howe in her downright way.
" I suggest nothing. But the fact remains — I
give it for what it is worth— but the fact does
remain that John Carejr has never read one of her
books— not one ! "
"What?" The Baxter girl's mouth opened
and stayed so.
" You don't intend to say " began Mr. Flood.
" I don't believe it," said Miss Howe contemp-
" Why not ? I've known a man jealous of his
wife before now. I suppose he knew enough to
know that she had the brains." The blonde lady
Anita shook her head reluctantly.
" Jealousy ? Hm— it might have been, of course.
But I didn't get that impression. I believe that
it was a perfectly genuine lack of interest."
" Yes, but I don't believe it. How d'you know
he didn't? It's not a thing he'd own to. Who
LKC K N I)
Madala. Madala herself. She used to make a
joke of it.''
44 She never showed when she was hurt," said
the Baxter girl emotionally.
" Yes, but it almost seemed as if she were not
hurt, as if her— her sensitiveness, her better feelings,
had been blunted. I've known her use it as a
iccapon almost," said Anita conscientiously recol-
lecting. " He — that annoyed me so — he was very
peremptory with her sometimes, most rude in his
manner. Of course, you know, she zvas dreamy.
Not that that excused him for a moment. I
remember a regular scene "
"Before you?" Miss Howe cast instant doubt
" My room was next to theirs. I could hear
them through the wall. I can assure you that he
stormed at her in a most ungentlcmanly way — "
" What about? " said the Baxter girl breathlessly.
" Something about his razors. A parcel had
come by the early post, and just because she had
cut the string — but I couldn't follow it all. He was
a man who was easily irritated by trifles. Well,
as I say, after he had raged at her for five minutes
or more, till I could have gone in and spoken to
him myself, all that that patient woman said, was —
' Darling, have you begun Eden Walls yet? ' I tell
you the man never said another word."
"He didn't prevent her writing, did he?" said
" There's no doubt that he discouraged her. He
was selfish. It was his wretched doctoring all day
long — and you know how sensitive Madala was. I
did persuade her to do some work while I was
staying with them, but I soon saw that it was
labour thrown away. Her heart wasn't in it.
When it wasn't Carey it was the baby clothes.
For the sake of her reputation," her voice hardened,
" it's as well that she has died when she has."
" Anita ! "
" I mean it." She was quick and fierce. " Do
you think it was a little thing for me to see that
pearl of great price — oh, not Madala Grey ! I grew
to hate her almost, that new Madala Grey — but the
gift within her, her great, blazing genius — flung
away, trampled on— — "
Miss Howe turned her head in slow denial.
" No, Anita ! Not genius. Charm, if you like.
Talent, as much as you please. But Madala Grey
wasn't a genius, and she knew it."
Anita flung up her head.
" She will be when I've done with her. She
will be when I've written the Life."
" Ah, the poor child ! ' said Great-aunt start-
Anita never heeded. She was wrapt away in
some cold passion of her own, a passion that amazed
me. I had always thought of her as what she
looked, an ordered, steely woman, all brain and
will; yet now of a sudden she revealed herself, a
creature convulsed, writhing in flames. Hut they
were cold flames. Cold (ire, is there such a thing?
In hums. There is phosphorus. There is the tight
of stars. I know what I mean if only I had the
words. Star-fire— that's it. She was like a dead
star. Sin- warmed no-one, she only burned herself up.
It was the impression of a moment. When I
looked again it was as if I had been withdrawn
from a telescope. She was herself once more. The
volcano had shrunk to a diamond twinkle, to a
tiny, gesticulating creature with a needle tongue.
It was bewildering: while I listened to her I was
still thinking — ' Yes, but which is Anita '! Diamond
or star? What makes the glitter? Frost or
But that blonde woman in the shadows went off
into noiseless laughter that woke the dragons and
stirred Mr. Flood to an upward glance. Then he
hunched himself closer against her knees, his chin
low on his chest, so that his tiny beard and mouth
and eyes were like triangles standing on their points.
The pose gave him a glinting air of mockery and
yet, somehow, you did not feel that he was amused.
You only felt — ' Oh, he's practised that at a looking-
He drawled out —
" The Life, dear lady? Enlighten our darkness."
" That," came the murmur behind him, " is
precisely what she is going to do. How dense you
are, Jasper ! "
And at the same moment from Miss Howe —
" Be quiet, you two ! Tell us, Anita ! A life
of her? Is that it? Ah, well, I always suspected
your note-book. Did she know you Boswellized? "
"She?" There was the strangest mixture of
scorn and admiration in the voice. " As if one could
let her know ! That was the difficulty with Madala
Grey : she wouldn't take herself seriously. She
had — " a pause and a search for the correct word —
" what I can only call a perverted sense of humour.
If she'd known that I — noted things, she'd have
been quite capable of falsifying all her opinions,
misrepresenting herself completely, just to — throw
me out, as it were. Not maliciously, I don't mean
that. But she teases," finished Anita petulantly.
" She will do it. She laughs at the wrong things.
Of course she's young still."
" Yes, she's young — now. She stays young now.
She gains that at least," said the woman in the
Anita made a quick little sound, half titter and
" Oh ! " she cried — and her voice was as grey as
her face — " I forgot. Do you know — I forgot !
It's going to be ghastly. I believe I shall always
I glanced up at Kent Rehan. It made me realize
that I had been listening with anxiety, that I was
afraid of their expressive sentences. They had
words, those writing people. They knew what they
thought: they could say what they thought: and
what they thought could hurt. I didn't want him
to be hurt. I said, under my breath —
" Oh, why do you stay here? They aren't your
But he had heard nothing. He was poring over
the long tassel of the blind, weaving it into a six-
strand plait. I couldn't help watching his fingers.
He had the most beautiful hands that I've ever
seen on a man. They looked like two alive and
independent creatures. They looked as if they
could do anything they chose, whether he were
there to superintend or not. And he was miles
away. I was glad. Anita's voice was rising like
a dreary wind.
" Just that is so strange. All the time I've known
her I've thought of her in the past tense. Her
moods, her ways, her actions, were finished things
to me — chapters of the Life. I wrote her all the
time. But now, when she is mine, as it were, now
that she exists only in my notes and papers and
remembrance of her, now it comes that I'm shaken.
I can't think of her as a subject any more. I shall
be wanting her — herself. I can't think clearly.
It's frightening me, the work there is ahead of me.
Because I've got to do it without her. She's lying
dead down there in Surrey — now — at this minute.
And there's that man — and a child. One's over-
whelmed. It's so cruel. The only creature who
ever cared for me. Think of Madala, quite still,
not answering, not lighting up when you speak to
her, staring at the ceiling, staring at her own coffin-
lid. In two days she'll be under the ground. Do
you ever think what that means — burial — the
corruption — the ' '
" Stop it, Nita ! " Miss Howe's movement blotted
out my cousin's face. "Do you hear? I can't
stand it. Here — drink some coffee. Jasper ! Say
something ! ' I heard the coffee-cup dance in its
There came Aunt Serle's anxious quaver —
"Anita! Nita! What's the matter, my dear?
What's the matter with my daughter? "
Nobody answered. She was like a tortoise as
she poked her head from the hood of her chair.
" Jenny ! " she called cautiously. " Jenny ! "
I slipped across the room to her.
" What's it about, Jenny? Eh? Speak up, my
dear! Not crying, is she? Temper, that's it.
Don't say I said so."
"It's all right, Auntie. She— they— it's the bad
news. It's upset them all."
" Bad news ? Fiddlesticks ! Temper, I call it.
Why shouldn't the girl get married? Not much
money, but a pleasant fellow. Time for her to
settle. I said to her — ' My dear, you follow your
heart.' But Nita tried to stop it. Nita couldn't
get over it. Cried. Temper. That's it. Look at
her now. 'Sh ! Don't let her see you."
But Anita wasn't looking at me and she wasn't
L EG EN 1)
crying. I suppose Great-aunt must have known
what she was talking about; but it wasn't easy to
imagine my cousin soft and red-eyed like that great,
good-natured Miss Howe. Her little sharp face
looked as controlled as if it were carved. Yet, as
she said herself, she was shaken. That showed in
the jerkiness of her movements, the sharpening of
her voice, in the break-up of her accustomed How
of words into staccato, like a river that has come
to some rocks : and her hands had a clock-work,
incessant movement, clutch-clutch, fingers on palm,
that her eyes repeated. They were everywhere at
once, resting, Hitting, settling again, yet seeing
nothing, I think, while she listened to Mr. Flood
and grew more irritated with every word.
" Why bad news?" said Great-aunt in my ear.
" It's a son, isn't it?"
" Oh, Auntie, didn't you hear ? " (She had heard,
you know. I had seen her shrinking back when
Anita screamed at her, with that dreadful shrink-
ing that you see in an animal threatened by a head-
blow. She had been leaning forward, and eager.
She must have heard.)
"Hear? They all talk," she quavered. "'Be
quiet,' says Anita. Ah, I"ve spoilt her. Now
Madala What's the time, my dear? Why
don't she come? "
" Auntie — Auntie "
" Eh ? " she said. " Why don't Madala come ? "
Auntie — you've forgotten. She's been ill."
" Ah — and she'll be worse before she's better,"
said Great-aunt briskly. " 'Sh ! Listen to my
We listened : at least, I listened. Great-aunt
cocked her head on one side, still as a bird, for a
minute; then, like a bird, she was re-assured and
fell to her knitting again.
Anita and Mr. Flood were quarrelling.
" Why shouldn't I ? Tell me that ! Is anyone
better fitted? Who knows as much about her as
I do? Didn't I discover her, hacking on two
pounds a week ? Didn't I recognize what she was ?
Who sent her to Mitchell and Bent? Who intro-
duced her everywhere? W T ho bullied her into
writing Ploughed Fields ? Who was the best friend
she ever had — even if I didn't make the parade of
being fond of her that Oh, I've no patience !
What would the world know of Madala Grey if it
weren't for me ? "
' But — oh, of course we all know how good you
were to her, Miss Serle, indeed I can guess by
what you've done for me " began the Baxter
Mr. Flood's tongue tip showed between his red
lips. I think he would have made some comment
but for the hand pressing on his shoulder.
" But ? " said the woman behind the hand.
" I only mean — ' genius will out,' won't it ? "
" Genius ? Big word ! " said Miss Howe.
41 Not too big." The Baxter girl reddened
" ' Genius will out? ' Not Madnla Grey's. She
didn"t know she had any. I don't believe she ever
fully realized Why, it was the merest chance
t hat. Eden Walls didn't u r «> into the fire. If it hadn't
been for me — if it hadn't been for me "
" Ah — you ! " Miss Howe squared up to her.
" Now just what (among friends) have you stood
to gain ? Fond of her ? Oh yes, you were, Anita !
Don't tell me ! But in spite of yourself, eh? But
that wasn't what you were after. You didn't get
the pleasure out of her that — I did, for instance.
You used to exhaust Madala. I've seen you do it.
You — you drained her."
" Yes, I did. I meant to," said Anita with her
laugh. " Pleasure ! "
" And she thought you were fond of her. She used
to flare if anyone attacked you. Poor Madala ! '
"Poor? Why? I shall give it all back." Anita
gave her a long cool look. " I — I hate debts," said
Miss Howe flushed brightly.
" If you were cursed with the artistic tempera-
ment " She broke off and began again. " If
I were a poor devil of a Bohemian in a hole, it's
not to you I'd go "
" — twice ! " said Anita.
Again they eyed each other. Miss Howe, still
Hushing, chose her words.
" Madala never lent. That wasn't in her. She
gave. Time, money, love — she gave. You took,
it was understood, rather than hurt her feelings by
refusing. But it was always free gift."
" Not to me." Anita held her head high. " I
shall pay. And interest too."
" Oh, the Life ! Are you really going to attempt
a Life ? " Miss Howe recovered herself with a
laugh, while Mr. Flood repeated curiously —
" Yes, but then what were you after, Anita ?
What do you stand to gain? "
" Reflected glory," came from behind him.
She turned as if she had been stung.
" Reflected? Let her keep it ! Reflected? Am
I never to have anything of my own ? Oh, wait ! '
" You can't get much of yourself into a life of
Madala Grey though. You've too much sense of
style for that," Mr. Flood insisted. " We both hate
a biographer who ' I says, says I.' "
" Oh, it shall be all Madala Grey. I promise you
that," she said with her thin smile.
" Humph ! It's a notion." Miss Howe was really
interested, I could see — yet with a flush on her
cheek still. " It's your sort of work too, Anita !
You're — happier — in critical work."
" Oh, don't hedge. Don't be delicate with me.
I can't create, that's what you mean. Do you
think that's news to me? Is there a critic who
has failed to make it clear to me? I can record —
but I can't create. Good ! I can't create. I
L KC KN I)
can't do what she did --wli.it you do, Jasper wh.it
even Beryl here does. But " she paused an
instant, "you should be afraid of me for all that.
I can pry. Little, nasty, mean word, isn"t it? It's
The Baxter girl laughed uncertainly and then
stopped because Anita's eyes were on her.
" I've eyes. I — " she opened and shut her tiny
hands before them — " I've claws. I can pry you
open, any of you — if I choose. I haven't chosen.
You've not been worth while. Hut — Madala ! '
and here she released the uneasy Baxter girl —
" Madala' s my chance — my chance — my chance !
Madala Grey — look at her — coming into her king-
dom at twenty — that babe! And me! Look at
me ! Do you know what my life has been, any of
you? Oh, you come to my house to meet my
lionets, and we're very good friends, and you're
afraid of my reviews, and so I have my position,
I suppose. But what do you know about me?
When I was fifteen — and it's thirty years ago — I
said to myself, ' Now what shall I do with my
life?' Mother — " she shot her a glance : she didn't
even trouble to lower her voice, " she'd have drudged
me and dressed me and married me, I suppose, to
three hundred a year and the city — oh, with the best
of motives. I fought. I fought. That's why I'm an
ungrateful daughter. I'm supposed to be, I think.
My people were so sorry for my mother. My people
thought me a fool. I saw through them. Yes,
and I saw through myself. That's the kind of fool
I was. Didn't I reckon it out? I hadn't a charm.
I hadn't a talent. I had my will. That's all I
had. I taught myself. Work? You don't know
what work means, you ten and five -talented.
There's not a book worth reading that I haven't
read. There's not the style of a master that I
haven't studied, that I couldn't reproduce at a
pinch. There's not a man or a woman in London
today, worth knowing — from my point of view —
that I haven't contrived to know. The people
who've arrived — how I've studied them, the ways
of them, the methods of them. And what's the
end of it all? That — " she jerked her head to
the row of her own books on the shelf behind her,
" and my column in the Matins, and some comfort-
ing hundreds a year, and — my knowledge of myself.
Oh, I've turned out good work. I know that. I
have judgment. That's why I judge myself. I've
always been rigid with myself. And so I know
when I look at my books — though I can say that
they are sounder, better work, in better English,
that they have more knowledge behind them, than
the books of a dozen of you people who arrive —
yet I know that they have failed. People don't
read me. People don't want me. Why? I have
my name. I've the name of a well-known critic,
but — I'm only a name. I'm not alive. The public
doesn't touch hands with me. Now why? Oh,
how I've tormented myself. Nearly thirty years
LEGE N 1)
I've given, of unremitting labour, to my art, to
my career. There's not a thought or a wish that
I haven't sacrificed to it. And then that child of
twenty comes along, without knowledge, without
training, without experience, and gets at one leap,
mark you all, at one leap, more than I've achieved
in thirty years. Some people, I suppose, would
submit. Well, I won't. I wouldn't. Docs my
will go for nothing ? I will have my share. ' Re-
flected glory,' yes, I've stooped to that. I've
exploited her, if you like to call it that. When
I think of the day I discovered her " She
paused an instant, dragging her hand wearily over
her eyes—" I was at my zero that day. The
Famous Women had been out a week. The reviews
— oh, the reviews ! Respectful, courteous, luke-
warm. If they'd attacked me, if they'd slated,
I'd have rejoiced. But they respect me and they're
bored. They know it's sound work and they're
bored. I bore people. I bore you — all of you.
Do you think I'm blind? That night I read the
manuscript of Eden Walls. (Wasn't it kind of me
— it wasn't even typed!) And then I saw my
chance. I saw how far she'd got at twenty, and
I thought—' I'll take my chance. I'll take this
genius. I'll make her fond of me. I'll help her. I'll
worm myself into her. I'll abase myself. I'll toady.
I'll do anything. But I will find out how she does
it. I will find out the secret. I'll find it and I'll
make it my own. I'll serve for her as Jacob served
for Rachel; but she shall serve nie in the end.'
I have watched. I have studied. I have puzzled.
I believe I've grasped it at last. I know myself
and I know her. If genius is life — the power to
give life — is it that? then I'm barren. I can't
make life as Madala can. But — listen to me !
Listen to me all of you ! I can take a living thing
— I can cut it open alive. That's what I shall do
with this life-maker — this easy genius. I've taken
her to pieces, flesh and blood, bone and ligament
and muscle, every secret of her mind and her heart
and her soul. The life, the real life of Madala Grey,
the rise and fall of a genius, that's what I'm going
to make plain. She's been a puzzle to you all,
with her gifts and her ways and her crazy marriage
— she's not a mystery to me. I tell you I've got
her, naked, pinned down, and now I shall make
her again. Isn't it fair? She ought to thank me.
' Dead,' he says. Who's to blame ? She chose to
kill herself. What right had she to take risks ? I — ■
I've refrained. She couldn't. She threw away her
lamp. But I — I take it. I light it again. Finding's
keeping. It's mine."
Her voice ripped on the high note like a rag on
a nail, and she checked, panting. Her hand went
up to her throat as the fumy air rasped it.
" Mine ! " she cried again, coughing. There was
wild-fire in her eyes as she challenged them.
The little space between her solitariness and their
grouped attention was filled with fog and silence
L EG E N I)
;iih1 lamp-light, woven as it were into a fifth clement.
It was like a p<><>] t<i he crossed. And across it, in
answer, a laugh rippled out.
I don't know who it was that laughed. I did
not recognize the voice. Souk times, looking back,
I think it was the laugh of their collective soul.
" Oh ! " cried Anita, and stopped as if she had
been awakened suddenly by a blow — as if the little
wondering, wincing cry had been struck out of her
by a blow on the face. She stood thus a moment,
uncertain. Then she too laughed, nervously,
" One talks," she said, " among friends/'
Miss Howe made a wry face.
" Lord, we're a queer set of friends ! How we
love one another ! "
" You've all of you been awfully good to me,"
said the Baxter girl. But her gratitude was too
general to be acceptable. Even I could have told
" Oh, we do our best for you," said Mr. Flood.
She looked at him from under her lashes.
" Yes, and she's thinking this minute what a
nice little scene this would make for her new book
— touched up, of course," said the woman behind
" Art — selection — Jimmy Whistler " Mr.
Flood was one indistinct murmur.
" With herself her own heroine again, eh? " Miss
Howe baited her.
" I didn't. I wasn't."
" Better folk than you do it, child ! Anita says
so. Don't they, Anita? "
" Oh," said Anita heavily, " I wish Madala Grey
were here. I wish she hadn't died. If she were
here she wouldn't — you'd never — she wouldn't let
you laugh at me."
Miss Howe looked at her intently. There was
a quick little run of expression across her large
handsome face, like a hand playing a scale. It
showed, that easily moved, easily read face, surprise,
interest, concern, and, in the end, the sentimental
impulse of your kind fur-clad woman to the beggar
on the curb. ' Why ! I believe she's cold ! I
don't like it ! Give her tuppence, quick ! ' She
was out of her chair, overwhelming Anita, in one
impetuous heave of drapery.
" You're right, Nita ! We're pigs ! Something's
wrong with us. 'Pologize. You know we don't
Anita endured her right-and-left kisses.
" You do mean it," was all she said.
She was shrunk to such a small grey creature
again. I thought to myself—' Fire ? It's not even
diamond-sparkle. She's as dull as stone.'
Miss Howe was eagerly remorseful.
" We don't. I don't know what's got into us
tonight. It's the fog. There's something evil about
a fog. Distorting. It yellows over one's soul."
It isn't only tonight," said the Baxter girl,
with her sidelong, ' ean-I-risk-it ? ' look al them.
11 The fog's been coming on for months."
" And yon mean ? ' The blonde lady n< I
snubbed the Baxter girl. It struck me suddenly,
as their eyes met, that there was the beginning of
a likeness between them. The Baxter girl at fifty
— with dyed hair ? But it was only an idea
of mine. I'm always seeing imaginary likenesses.
I remember that those Academy pictures of Kent
Rehan's always set me to work wondering — ' That
woman with the face turned away — I've seen her
somewhere — of whom does she remind me ? — where
have I seen her?' And yet, of course, in those
days I knew nothing of Madala Grey.
But the Baxter girl was answering —
" It — it's cheek, I know, but it's true. When I
first came—-" then, with a swift propitiatory glance
at Anita — " when you first let me come — the Nights
weren't like this. You weren't like this, any of
'* Upon — my — word ! " said Miss Howe with her
benevolent chuckle. " Nita ! Listen to the infant ! "
" Like what? " Mr. Flood moved uneasily.
The Baxter girl turned to him enthusiastically.
" Oh, I used to think you such wonderful
" Did you now?" Miss Howe teased her.
" Let be ! let be ! " said Mr. Flood impatiently.
" Well, dear lady?"
" Oh, I did ! I'd read all your stuff. I believe
I could write out The Orchid House from memory
His eyes lit up as he challenged her —
" ' Sour ! ' said the fox at her feet,
' How can she ripen windy -high ?
Sour ! ' said the fox with his nose to the sky — "
He was as pleased as a child with a toy when she
capped it —
"Then a grape dropped off. It was rotten sweet.
There ! " she flushed at him triumphantly. And
then — " Now did you mean ? Who was in your
mind ? Were they anyone we know ? I've always
wanted to ask you."
But before he could answer her the blonde lady
leaned forward and whispered in his ear. He
turned to her with a glance of interest and amuse-
ment, but with his lips still moving and his mind
still running on an answer to the Baxter girl. The
blonde lady whispered again, and then he turned
right round to answer her, shelving his arms on
her knees. I couldn't hear what they said, but it
was just as if she had beckoned him into another
room. He was withdrawn from the conversation
and from the Baxter girl for as long as that blonde
Miss Howe looked at them with her broad smile.
" Tell us, Beryl ! We're listening, anyhow ! " she
L EG E xu
Hut the Haxtcr girls chill went up. The touch
of annoyance in her voice made it twang, made
her commonness suddenly noticeable. She was
bearable when she was in awe of them, but now
she was asserting herself, and that meant that she
was inclined to be noisy.
" Oh, my opinion doesn't count, of course !
Hut — " she swung like a pendulum between her
1 wo manners — " oh, I did enjoy myself at first.
* It was the way you all talked. You knew everyone.
You'd read everything. You frothed adventures.
Like champagne it was, meeting all the people. I
used to write my head off, the week after. And
you were all kind to me from the first. I suppose
it was Madala. She never let one feel out of it.
Hut I thought it was all of you. 1 had the feeling
— ' the gods aren't jealous gods.' Hut now it's — "
she looked at them pertly, " it's fog on Olympus."
1 You needn't — honour us, you know, Beryl,"
said Anita sharply.
She answered with her furtive look.
1 I know. And I don't think — I don't want to
come as much as I did."
" In that case " Anita ruffled up.
" Fog ! Fog ! " cried Miss Howe clapping her
hands. And then — "All the same, Nita, people
are dropping off. The Whitneys haven't been for
weeks. When did Roy Huth come last? And the
Golding crowd? I marvel that he turns up still."
She nodded towards Kent Rehan. " Oh, you know,
we're like a row of beads when the string's been
pulled out. We lie in a line for a time, but a touch
will send us rolling in all directions."
" Yes," said the Baxter girl vehemently, " the
heart's out of it somehow. I'm not ungrateful. It's
just because I used to love coming so."
Miss Howe looked down at Anita, not unkindly.
" Give it up, Nita ! The Nights have served their
turn. It sounds ungracious, but things have to end
sometime or other. Hasn't the time come ? Hasn't
it come tonight? "
" But you've been coming all this year just the
same," said Anita stubbornly.
Miss Howe shrugged her shoulders. It was the
Baxter girl who answered—
" Ah, but there was always just a chance of
At that Anita, who had been sitting as steely
stiff as a needle in a pin-cushion, got up, shaking off
Miss Howe's persuasive, detaining hand and the
overflow of her skirts. The cushions tumbled after
her on to the floor.
" As to that," she said, " and don't imagine that I
haven't known what you came for, all of you "
Her voice was sharp enough to have recalled any-
one and it recalled Mr. Flood. He returned to the
conversation with the air of dragging the blonde lady
after him. She had the manner of one hanging
back and protesting, and laughing still over some
L E G K N 1)
secret understanding. "Eh?" said he. " What'l
that about Madala? "
Anita looked from one to another.
" I'm telling you," she said. " I've told you
already, I can give you Madala Grey. Come here
and I'll give you Madala Grey still. That's what
you want, isn't it, to be amused? She amused
" She did, bless her ! "' said Miss Howe.
" It was her brains," said the Baxter girl.
" A beautiful creature," said Mr. Flood slowly.
" Not she ! " The lady behind him was smiling.
" She made you think so. She made men think
so. But how? That intrigued me. Oh, she was
prettyish : but that was all. I used to watch
" Envy?" sai<fhe.
" No, not envy," said that woman slowly. " She
was too — innocent — how could one envy? She
didn't know her own strength. She said — ' Don't
hurt me,' with a sword at her side."'
" Excalibur." It came from Mr. Flood. " Magic."
" No, Madala — just Madala." Miss Howe sighed.
" It's no good, Anita, you can't give us back
But my cousin, looking at them, laughed in her
"Madala? You fools! You've never had her.
But you shall ! Oh, wait ! My books are dull,
aren't they? Yet you'll be here, you know, every
month, thick as bees, to listen to me. A chapter
a month, that's all I'll give to you. / don't write
three novels a year. But you'll come, you'll come.
Proof? There's plenty of proof. See here."
She went swiftly across to the outer room. There
was a large carved desk standing on the little table
by the window. She picked it up. It was too big
for her. It filled her arms so that she staggered
under the weight.
" Oh, Kent! " she called.
He came back to the foggy room with a visible
" Here, that's too heavy for you. Let me." He
took it from her.
" The table — here. Thank-you, oh, thank-you,
Kent." She veiled her voice as she spoke to him.
" It's heavy — it's so full — books — papers "
He put it down for her and nodded, and was
straying away again when she stopped him.
" Kent ! Don't sit by yourself. We — " her voice
was for him alone — " we're talking about — her. I
was going to show them — Kent, stay here with
He waited while she talked to him. And she
talked very sweetly and kindly. She was the quiet,
chiffony little creature again with the pretty, pure
voice. / couldn't make her out. She looked up
at him and said something too low for me to catch,
and then —
There's your chair. Isn't that always your
L KG EN I)
chair?" And so left him and turned to the tabic
and tin' box and the others.
But he did not take the saddle-bag near Anita's
own scat. He Looked Irresolutely from one to
another of the group (hat watched Anita fumbling
with her keys. He Looked, and his face softened,
at Great-aunt, muttering over her needles. He
looked at the empty chair beside inc. He looked
at me and found me watching him. Then, as I
smiled at him just a little, he came to me and sat
down. Hut he said nothing to me, and so I was
But Anita was busy, hands and eyes and tongue
" When she married, you know, in that hole and
corner fashion " Then, as if in answer, though
nobody had spoken—" Well, what else was it, when
nobody knew? when even I didn't know "
There was a movement in the chair beside me,
and turning, I caught the ending of a glance towards
my cousin. A new look, I found it, on that passive
face, a roused and wondering and scornful look
that transformed it. But, even as I caught it, it
faded again to that other look of bleak indifference,
a look to know and dread on any creature's face,
a look that must not stay on any fellow-creatures
face. I knew that well enough. So I said the first
words that came, in my lowest voice, lest they
But they were talking. They did not hear.
" I'm sure that Great-aunt knew." Indeed I
thought so. I think that Great-aunt would always
be kind and guessing with a girl. Then I wondered
at myself for daring it and thought nervously —
' He'll snub me. He'll be right to snub me '
But he looked across at Great-aunt kindly and
said, in just such a withdrawn voice as mine —
" Yes, of course, if ever there was a time when "
Then he half smiled. " Poor old lady ! But she's
changed. She used to be so brisk and managing,
more like fifty than seventy. But this year's aged
her. She wanted, you know, to give some pearls —
her own pearls. But pearls spell sorrow. And Anita
would have objected. She told me all about it."
" She was speaking of them tonight." We both
turned again and looked at her. She had dropped
her knitting, or it had slipped from her knee, and
she sat in her chair staring down at it with a terrible,
comical air of helplessness. Then she caught his
eye and forgot the knitting and nodded at him.
" I think — " I said, " I don't think she under-
stands. She asked me — she forgets I'm a stranger.
She asked me " I broke off. I couldn't say
to him — ' She asked me about Miss Grey and she
doesn't realize that she's dead.' One's afraid of
the brutality of words. But he understood. There
was a simplicity about him that re-assured one.
And he never said — ' It's Anita's business. It's not
your business,' as anyone else might have done.
He just said, once again —
" Poor old lady ! " and hesitated a minute. Then
he got up and went across to her and picked up
her wools. I don't think the others noticed
him go. Anita didn't. She was talking too
" — left a trunk-full of papers and so on. I'd
often stored boxes for her. Somehow it never got
sent down. I came across it only yesterday. I
thought to myself that there was no harm in putting
things straight. You know I'm literary executor?
Oh yes. She said to me soon after her marriage,
half in joke, that she supposed she had got to
make a will — and what about her MSS. ? ' I can't
have him worried.' I offered at once. You see I
know so exactly her attitude in literature. There's
a good deal of unpublished stuff — early stuff. But
all in hopeless confusion. Tumbled up with bills
and programmes and one or two drafts of letters —
or so I imagine. She had that annoying habit —
that ugly modern habit — of beginning without any
invocation, and never a date. But there's one
letter — there's the draft of a letter that's important
from my point of view." She broke off with a
half laugh. " It sounds a ridiculous statement to
make about Madala Grey of all people, but do you
know that she couldn't express herself at all easily
on paper? "
Miss Howe nodded.
" Do I know? I've known her re-write a letter
half a dozen times before she got it to her liking —
no, not business letters, letters to her intimates.
A most comical trick. Scribble, scribble, scribble —
slash ! and then crunch goes the sheet into a ball,
into the grate, or near it, till it looked as if she
were playing snow-balls, and then Madala begins
again — and again — and again. Yet she talked well.
She talked easily."
"Isn't that in keeping?" Mr. Flood struck in.
" She didn't express so much herself in her speech
as the mood of the moment."
" As the mood of the companion of the moment
more likely," the blonde lady corrected.
He nodded agreement.
" But for herself — go to her books."
" Or her letters — her careful, conscientious letters.
But she was careless about her drafts," said Anita
Mr. Flood looked at her curiously.
" What's up that sleeve of yours, Anita? "
She was quick.
" You shall read it, in its place. But the trouble
is " She hesitated. She gave the little nervous
cough that always ushered in her public lectures.
" We've all written books," she said, " all except
you, Blanche "
The blonde lady blinked her sleepy eyes.
" You're all so strenuous," she purred. " I love
to watch you being strenuous. So soothing."
' Well, I was going to say, it's easy enough to
end a book, but have you ever got to the beginning ?
L EG EN 1)
I never have. One steps backward, and backward
" I know," cried the Baxter girl. " Till you get
tired of it at last and begin writing Erom where you
are, but you never really get your foot on the
starting-point, on the spring-board, as you might
" That's it. Yes, Jasper, I've got material up
my sleeve, but frankly, I don't know how to place
it. I don't know where to begin. The facts of
her life, her conversation, her literary work, her
letters — I go on adding to my material till I am
overwhelmed with all that I have got to say about
her. But I don't want to begin with facts. Facts
are well enough, but think how one can twist them !
I want the woman behind the facts. I want the
answer to the question that is the cause of a
biography such as mine is to be — the question —
' What was Madala Grey?' Not who, mark you,
but further back, deeper into herself — ' What was
Madala Grey? ' "
" Why, a genius," said the Baxter girl glibly.
Anita neither assented nor dissented.
" Ah — " she said frowning, " but that's not
the beginning cither. At once we take our st< p
backward again — 'What is genius?'"
"Isn't talent good enough?' said Mr. Flood
"But does one mean talent?' She was still
frowning. " Everyone's got talent. I'm sick of
talent. But she — she mayn't be a great one — how
she'd have laughed at being called a great one ! —
but she makes her dolls live. And isn't that the
blood-link between the greatest gods and the littlest
gods ? Life-givers ? Life-makers ? Oh, I only speak
for myself; but she made her book- world real to me,
therefore for me she had genius. Whether or not 1
convince you is the test of whether my life-work,
my Life of her — fails or succeeds."
" I suppose you wouldn't trust it to Madala? "
said Miss Howe softly.
" To convince us."
She answered, suspicious rather than compre-
hending, for indeed Miss Howe's tone was very
" What do you mean? i'm writing her life."
Miss Howe was inscrutable.
" Of course you are. Fire ahead. Genius, wasn't
Anita shrugged her shoulders.
" What's in a name? It's the quality itself that
fascinates me. I want to account for it. I want
to trace it to its source. Worth doing, isn't it?
But do you realize the difficulties? Sometimes I
feel hopeless. I've known her five years, and her
books I know by heart, and I'm only just beginning
to decide whether to call her a romantic or a realist."
" A realist. Look at Eden Walls,'" said the Baxter
L E G E N D
• A romantic. Look at The Resting-place," said
Mr. Flood ovcr-rodc them.
" Dear ladies, you confuse the terms. It amazes
me how people always confuse the terms. Your
so-called realist, your writer who depicts what we
call reality, the outward life, that is, of flesh and
dirt and misery — don't you see that he is in truth
a romantic — a man (or woman) who lives in a fair
world of his own, a paradise of the imagination?
Out of that secure world of his he peers curiously
at ours, and writes of it as we dare not write, writes
down every sordid, garish, tragi-comic detail. Your
so-called realist can afford the humour of Rabelais,
the horror of Dostoievsky, the eheerful flesh and
blood of Fielding. Why shouldn't he be truthful?
It's not his world. Don't you see? But your
so-called romantic, he lives in this real world. He
knows it so well that he has to shut his eyes or
he would die of its reality. So he escapes into the
world of romance, the world of beauty within his
own mind — nowhere but in his own mind. Who
is our dreamer of dreams? Shelley, the realist!
Blake jogged elbows with poverty and squalor nil
his life, and he was the prophet and the king of
all spirits. Don't you sec? And Goethe — the
biographers will tell you that Goethe began as a
realist and ended as a romantic. I say it was the
other way round. What did he know of reality
in the twenties? Its discovery was the romantic
adventure of his young genius. But when he was
old and worldly and wise — then he wrote his
romances, to escape from his own knowledge. Oh,
I tell you, you should turn the words round. Now
take Shakespeare "
" It's not fair to take Shakespeare," said Miss
Howe. " It's the Elephant and the Crawfishes
over again. Let's keep to the crawfishes ! Let's
keep to our own generation ! "
" Well, if I were Anita I should begin by showing
Madala as a romantic — as the young romantic pro-
ducing the most startlingly realistic book we've had
for a decade. Indeed to me, you know, her develop-
ment is marked by her books in the sharpest way.
It's the young, the curious, the observant Madala
in Eden Walls. The whole book is a shout of dis-
covery, of young, horrified discovery, of the ugliness
of life. It's as if she said — ' Listen ! Listen !
These things actually happen to some people. Isn't
it awful ? ' She dw T ells on it. She insists on every
detail. She can't get aw r ay from it. And yet she
can hardly believe it, that young Madala. But in
Ploughed Fields already the tone's changing. It's
a pleasanter book, a more sophisticated book. It
interests profoundly, but it's careful not to upset
one — an advance, of course. Yet I, you know, hear
our Madala' s voice in it still, an uneasy voice —
' Hush ! Hush ! These things happen to most
people. Pretend not to notice.' And in the last
book, in the pretty, impossible romance, there you
have voiir realist full-fledged— ' Shut your eyes I
Come away quickly ! These things arc happening
to me!* He Kant hack again folding his arms
and dropping his chin. And then, because Miss
Howe was looking at him as if she were amused —
>c I tell you I know. I recognize the symptoms.
I'm a realist myself. That's why I write romantic
poetry. Have to. It's that or drugs. How else
shall one get through life?"
"Jasper!" said the blonde lady. Rut for once
he didn't turn to her. He shrugged his shoulders.
" Don't worry. Who'll believe me? "
The Baxter girl was breathless.
"Oh, but I do. It's a new Madala, of course.
But I believe it explains her."
" But the facts of her life don't agree," began
"Ah, Anita's got to make 'em," said Mr. Flood
languidly. " Isn't that the art of biography ? '
But Anita was deadly serious.
" You don't begin far enough back. My spring-
board is not — what is Madala ? but — what is genius ?
How does it happen? Is it immaculate birth? or
is it begotten of accident upon environment ? That.
is to say — is it inspiration or is it experience? I
speak of the divine fire, you understand, not of
the capacity for resolving it into words or paint
or stone. That's craft, a very different thing. Von
say that Madala was not a genius in the big sense —
yes, I'll admit that even, for the argument's sake —
but even you will concede her the beginnings of it.
So my difficulty is just the same. I've never
believed in instinctive genius. Yet how can she,
at twenty, have had the experience (that she had
the craft is amazing enough) to cope with Eden
Walls? Romantic curiosity isn't enough explana-
tion, Jasper ! Look at her certainty of touch.
Look at her detail. Look how she gets inside that
woman's mind. That's the fascination of it. It's
such a document. Now how does she know it?
That's what intrigues me. Madala and a street
woman ! Where's the connection ? How does
she get inside her? Because she does get inside
" Oh, it's real enough," said the blonde lady.
" It must be. You should have seen the letters
she received ! Amazing, some of them."
" Anita, they amazed her. I remember her getting
one while she was staying with us. She looked
thoroughly frightened. She said — ' But Lila, I
didn't realize — it was just a story. But this poor
thing, she says it's true ! She says it's happened
to her ! What are we to do ? ' You know, she
was nearly crying. It was some hysterical woman
who had read the book. But Madala always be-
lieved in people. I know she wrote to her. I
believe she helped her. But she never told you
much about her doings."
" Oh, her sentimental side doesn't interest me.
What I ask myself is — how does she know, as she
obviously docs know. ;ill that hei wretched drab
of a heroine thought and fell and Buffered?' 1
" Instinct ! Imagination ! " said the Baxter girl.
" It must be the explanation."
" It isn't. It isn't. Oh, I've puzzled it out.
I'm convinced thai from the beginning it's experi-
ence. Don't ilare, Lila, I don't mean literal
experience. Not in Eden Walls, anyhow. Later,
of course — but we're discussing Eden Wails. Imagi-
nation, do you say, Beryl ? But the imagination
must have a fact for its root. I'll grant you that
imagination is so essentially a quality of youth that
the merest rootlet of a reality is enough to set a
young artist beanstalk climbing. But the older he
grows, the wiser, the more versed in reality, the
less he trusts his imagination, the more, in conse-
quence, his imagination flags and withers; till he
ends— one sees it happen again and again — as the
recorder merely of his own actual experiences and
emotions. It's only the greatest who escape that
decay of the imagination. Do you think that
Madala did? Look at Eden Walls. Remember
what we know about her. Can't you see that the
skeleton of Eden Walls is Madala's own life? Con-
sider her history. She leaves what seems to have
been a happy childhood behind her and sets out
on adventure — very young. So does the woman
in Eden Walls. The parallel's exact. Madala's
Westering Hill and the Breckonridge of the no\ < 1
are the same place. The house, the lane, the
country-side, she doesn't trouble to disguise them.
Again — Madala's adventure is ushered in by
calamity : and tragedy — (you can see the artist
transmuting the mere physical calamity into
tragedy) tragedy happens to the woman in Eden
Walls. Remember how much more Madala dwelt
on the sense of loneliness and lovelessness, on the
anguish of the loss of something to love her, than
on what one might call the — er — official emotions
of a betrayed woman. Didn't it strike you?
Doesn't that show that she was depending on her
experience rather than on her imagination, fitting
her own private grief to an imaginary case ? Then,
in America, she has the struggle for meat and drink,
for mere existence. So does the woman in Eden
Walls. Madala does not go under. The woman
in Eden Walls does. It's the first real difference.
But I maintain that in reality the parallel still
continues, that, in imagination, Madala did go
under over and over again : that she had ever in
front of her the ' suppose, suppose,' that, in drawing
the woman in Eden Walls, she is saying to herself —
' Here, but for the grace of God, go I.' And then,
you know, when you think of her, hating that big
city, saving up her pennies, and coming home at
last in a passion of homesickness (if it was home-
sickness — sickness anyhow), can't you see how it
makes her write of that other woman? It's the
gift, the genius, stirring in her : born, not immacu-
lately, but of her own literal experience. Jasper's
right— you can always make facts fit if you think
them out : and because I possess that underlying
shadow-work (1 admit it's no more) of fact to guide
me in deciphering her method in the first book,
therefore, in the second book and the third book,
I find it safe to deduce fads to cover the stories,
even when I don't possess them. I consider that
I'm justified, that Eden Wall* justifies me. Don't
"It's plausible,'' said Mr. Flood thoughtfully.
" Oh, it's convincing," said the Baxter girl
reverently. " I feel I've never known Madala Grey
before. What it will be when you get it into shape,
.Miss Serle "
""In fact," said Miss Howe, "there's only one
" And that? " said Anita swiftly.
" Only Madala's own account."
" She never discussed her methods," said Anita
" Just so ! You're not the only person who's —
pumped. 1 remember seeing her once surrounded,
in her lion days. I remember her ingenuous ex-
planations. She did her best to oblige them —
'Honestly, I don't know. One just sits down and
imagines.' And then — 'That's quite easy. But
it's awfully difficult writing it down." That's the
explanation, Nita. A deliberate, even unconscious
self-exploitation is all nonsense. Madala's not clever
" Not clever enough ! "
" No. You're much cleverer than she was. You
have twice her brains. You can't think, Anita,
what brains you've got. You've got far too many
to understand a simple person. I don't agree, you
know, with ' genius.' I can't throw a word like
that about so lightly. But as far as it went with
Madala, it was the same sort of genius that makes
a crocus push in the spring. Your theory — oh, it's
plausible, as Jasper says, but don't you see that
it destroys all the charm of her work? It's the
innocence of her knowledge, the simplicity of her
attitude to her own insight that to me is moving.
She touches pitch, yet her fingers are clean. It's
her view of her story that arrests one, not her
story, not her facts, not her mere plot."
" No, the plot is conventional, I'll grant you that.
She was always content with old bottles."
" Yes, and when the new wine burst them and
made a mess on the carpet, Madala was always so
surprised and indignant."
Mr. Flood giggled.
" Pained is the word, dear lady — surprised and
pained. Do you remember when Eden Walls was
" I don't suppose she talked to 3^011 about it,
Jasper," said Miss Howe sharply.
"I? I was never of her counsels. But I got
my amusement out of the affair. Dear, delightful
woman ! She behaved like a schoolgirl sent to
Coventry. 1 remember congratulating her on the
advertise incut, and she would hardly speak to me.
But it suited her. the blush.""
" Wasn't it an advertisement ! " said the Baxter
girl longingl} .
" If one could have got her to see it," said Anita.
1 But no, she insisted on being ashamed of herself.
She said to me once that the critics had ' read in '
things that she had never dreamed of — that it made
her doubt her own motives — that she felt dirtied and
miserable. And yet she wouldn't alter one of those
scenes. Obstinate ! She could be very obstinate."
" Oh, which scenes? " The Baxter girl stuck her
elbows on the table and her chin in her fists. Her
eyes sparkled. "Oh, then, Miss Serle, did you — ?
did she come to you in the early days? Did you
help her too?"
" My daughter — very kind to young people ! '
It was a mere mutter, but I rccogniz.cd the swing
of the phrase. Anita didn't. She was busy with
the Baxter girl.
" I don't say that there would be no Madala
Grey today if I "
"But " said Mr. Flood.
"But — " said Miss Howe, "she's Anita's dis-
covery. We're never to forget that, are we,
"Oh, I knew that," said the Baxter girl, trying
to be tactful. " But Eden Wall* was written before
you knew her, wasn't it ? I understood — I didn't
know, I mean," she explained to them, "that Miss
Serle had — blue-pencilled "
" I did and I didn't." Anita laughed, as if in
spite of herself. " I confess I thought at the time
that it needed revision. Mind you, I never ques-
tioned the quality, but I knew what the public
would stand and what it wouldn't. Of course, I
didn't want the essentials altered. But there were
certain cuts However, nothing would move
" That's funny. She never gave me the impres-
sion that she believed in herself so strongly."
" Oh, her pose was diffidence," said the blonde
" But she didn't believe in herself. It was
obvious. When I went through her MS. and blue-
pencilled, she was most grateful. She agreed to
everything and took the MS. away to remodel."
" I heard nothing more of her — for weeks. Finally
I wrote and asked her to come and see me. She
came. She was delightful. I had told her, you
know, about the Anthology the first time I met
her. I remember that I was annoyed with myself
afterwards. I'm not often indiscreet. But she
had a — a knack — a way with her. I hardly know
how to describe it."
" One told her things," said the Baxter girl.
" Just so. One told her things. And she had
brought me a mass of material — some charming
American verso (you remember? in the last section
but one) thai I had never come across. She had
l>< . u reading for me at the British Museum in hex
spare time. I COnfeSS I Was touched. We talked,
I remember " She sighed reminiseently. " It
was not until she made a move to go that I recol-
lected myself. ' Well,' I said, ' and how about
Eden Walls f She fidgeted. She looked thoroughly
guilty. At last it came out. She hadn't altered a
line. She had tried her utmost. She had drafted
and re-drafted. She had finally given it up in
despair and just got work in some obscure news-
paper office — ' a most absorbing office ! ' But
there — you know Madala when she's interested —
was interested "
" Don't," said Miss Howe softly.
lint Anita went on —
"'Well but—' I said to her— 'that's all very
well. But you're not going to abandon Eden
Walls, are you ? ' Then it all came out. Yes,
she was. She knew I was right. She wasn't
conceited. She quite saw that the book was use-
less. It just meant that she couldn't write novels
and that she mustn't waste any more time. ' But
my dear Miss Grey,' I said, ' you mean to say that
you'd rather leave the book unpublished than alter
a couple of chapters, remodel a couple of char-
acters?' 'But I can't,' she said, 'I can't. They
happened that way.' ' Then make them happen
differently,' I said. But no, she couldn't. ' Oh
well,' I said at last — ' if you're so absolutely sure
of yourself, if you're prepared to set up your judg-
ment ' That distressed her. I can hear her
now. ' But I don't set up my judgment. I'll
burn the wretched stuff to-morrow if you say it's
trash. I knew it would be, in my heart. But —
I can't alter it, because — because it happened that
way.' Then I had an idea. 'To you?' I said.
She looked at me. She laughed. She said — ' Miss
Serle, you've written ten books to my one. Don't
pretend you don't know how a story happens.' "
Anita nodded at us. "You see? Evasive. I
think it was from that moment that I began to
have my theory of her."
"Well — and what next?" demanded Miss
" She would have said good-bye if I had let her.
I stopped her. ' Reconsider it,' I said. She beamed
at me, chastened but quite cheerful. ' Oh, I'll
try another some day,' she said. ' I suppose I'm
not old enough. I was a fool to think I could.'
At that, of course, I gave in. I wasn't going to
lose sight of Eden Walls. I told her to bring it as
it was and I'd see what I could do. As you know,
Mitchell and Bent jumped at it."
" But it was banned," said the Baxter girl.
" Yes, but everybody read it. You can get it
anywhere now. And I can say now — ' Thank the
gods she didn't touch it.' "
"Then she was right?"
"Of course she was right. I knew il all the
••And she didn't?"
" Of course she didn't. Mine was critical know-
ledge. Hers the mere instinct of — whatever you
i-hoose to call it. I was afraid of the critics. She
didn't know enough to be afraid."
" There's something big about you, Anita ! " said
Miss Howe suddenly.
Mr. Flood gave the oblique ilicker of eyes and
mouth that was his smile.
" Yes," he said slowly. " it fits her quite well."
" What? " said Anita sharply.
" The mantle, dear lady."
She shrugged her shoulders.
" Ah — Gentle dullness ever loves a joke. What,
" I don't see," the Baxter girl had harked back,
" how you can call a book that has been banned
" Only the plot "
"Ah, that plot!' Nobody could snub Mr.
Flood. " Think, dear lady ! Village maiden — faith-
less lover — lights o' London — unfortunate female —
what more do you want? "
"Of course." Anita resumed the reins. "It's
as old as The Vicar of Wakefield."
" Oh, that! " The Baxter girl looked interested.
" Do you know, I've never seen it. One of
Irving's shows, wasn't it?"
I laughed. I couldn't help it. But they were
all quite solemn, even Anita. But then she never
did listen to the Baxter girl. She had talked
straight through her sentences.
" But it's not the material. It's the way it's
handled. It's never been done quite so thoroughly,
from the woman's point of view — so unadornedly.
People are afraid of their ' poor gwls.' There's a
formula that even the Immortals follow. They are
all young and beautiful, and they all die. They
must. They wouldn't be tragic in continuation.
But Madala's woman doesn't. That's the point.
There's no pretence at making her a heroine.
She's just the ordinary stupidish sheep of a creature,
' gone wrong.' There's no romantic halo, no love-
glamour, no pity and terror, just the chronicle of
a sordid life. And yet you can't put the book down.
At least I couldn't put it down.
" Do you like it? " I said to Kent Rehan, as he
paused beside me in his eternal pacing from room
He looked at me oddly.
" I respect it," he said. " I don't like it. People
" If it had been the recognized love stor)' " —
Mr. Flood's high voice silenced him — " the regular-
ized irregularity, so to speak, it wouldn't have been
banned. It was the absence of a love story that
the British public couldn't forgive. It was cheated.
It was shocked."
L E G E N D
"But there is a love story at the bcginnni'
isn't there?" I said. " I haven't read far."
Instantly the Baxter girl exhibited me —
" Yes, imagine ! She hasn't read it ! "
"I've read The Vicar of Wakefield," I said.
And then I was annoyed that I had shown I was
annoyed. But at once Miss Howe helped me.
Miss Howe was always niee to nie.
"How far have you got? Where the man tires
of her? Ah, yes! Well, after that it's just her
struggle. She — she earns her living — in the in-
evitable way. She grows into a miser. She
Mr. Flood looked acute.
"That's what upset them. They don't mind a
Magdalen ; but Magdalen unaware, unrepentant,
Magdalen preserving her ill-gotten gains — no, that's
not quite nice."
"Well, I don't know," said Miss Howe. "If
anyone can't feel the spirit it's written in, the
passion of pity — I think it's the most pitiful thing
I've ever read. It made me shiver. That wretched
creature, saving and sparing " And then to
me, for I suppose I showed I was interested —
" She wants to get away, you know, to get
back into the country. It's her dream. The
home-sickness ' '
"I suppose such a woman could ?" said
the Baxter girl.
" I used to argue it with Madala. Madala always
said that, with some people, that animal craving
for some special place was like love — a passion that
could waste you. She said that every woman must
have some devouring passion, for a man, or a
child, or a place — every woman. And that for a
beaten creature like that, it would be place — the
homing instinct of a cat or a bird. And mixed up
with it, religion — the vague shadowy ideal of peace
and cleanly beauty — all that the wretched creature
tries to express in her phrase — ' getting out and
living quiet ' — that Madala typifies in the word
' Eden.' It meant much to Madala. Don't you
remember that passage towards the end of the
book where she meets the man, the first man, and
brings him home with her — and he doesn't even
recognize her, and she doesn't even care?" She
picked up a bundle of tattered proofs and turned
them over. "Where is it? What an appalling
hand she had ! " She stood a moment, reading a
page and pursing her lips. " Oh, well, what's the
use of reading it? We all know it." She flung
" Let me see," I said to the Baxter girl. She
drew it towards me. It was the first proof I'd
ever seen. It was corrected till it was difficult to
read. But I made it out at last.
With the closing of the door she dismissed him with
one phrase for ever from her mind —
" And that's that ! "
L EG E N 1)
She had long been accustomed thus to summarize
her clients, dispassionately, as one els beastc at ;i
show; and she judged them, not by their clothing or
theil speech, not by the dark endured hours of their
love or by the ticklish after-moment of the reckoning,
but rather, as she hovered at the door with her provo-
cative night smile dulled to a business friendliness, by
their manner of leaving her.
Always there was the fever to be gone; but some
went furtively, with cautious, tiptoe feet that set the
airs a-squeak with mockery. Her smile did not ehanp-
for the swaggerer who stayed long and took his luck-
kiss twice, but her eyes would harden. Mean, cheating
mean, to kiss again and never pay again ! And some
she watched and smiled upon who left her in a brutal
silence. For them she had no resentment, rather the
sullenness beneath her smile reached out to the revulsion
of their bearing as to something welcomed and akin.
\nd some gave back her smile with kindly words — and
those she hated.
But when, after his manner, tho man had gone, she
had, as always, her ritual
She locked her easy door and pulling out the key,
put it before her on the table at the bedside. Left and
right of it she laid her money down, adding to the
night's gains the meagre leavings of her purse. Left
and right the little piles grew, one heaped high for the
needs of her day and her night, for food and roof and
livery, and one a thin scatter of coppers and small
silver that took long weeks to change into the dear,
the exquisite, the Eden-opening gold. It was the bigger
pile that she thrust so carelessly back into her bag, and
the scattered ha'pence that she warmed in the cup of
her two hands, holding them, jingle-jingle, at her ears,
dropping them to her lap again to count anew, piling
them before her to a little, narrowing tower, before she
opened the child's jewel-case beside her, and, lifting
the sheaf of letters that she never read but kept still
and would always keep, for the savage pain they gave
her when her eyes, saw them and her fingers touched
them, she poured out the new treasure upon the sacred
Tenpence saved — and yesterday a shilling ! Five
shillings last week. Fifty pounds ! She would soon
have fifty pounds !
She put away the box of money, and so, surrendering
at last to the awful bodily fatigue, lay down again
upon the tousled bed, not to sleep — her sleeping time
was later in the day — but to shut her eyes.
For, by the amazing pity of God, a secret that is
not every man's, was hers — the secret of the refuge
appointed, behind shut eyes, of the return into eternity
that is the shutting down of lids upon the eyes. The
window glare, the screaming street below, the blank
soiled ceiling with the flies, the walls, the unending
pattern of the hateful walls, the clock, the finery, the
beastly scents, the loathed familiars of stuff and wood
and brass that blinked and creaked at her like voices
crying — " Misery ! misery ! misery ! " — these were her
world. Yet not her only world. She, who was so
dim and blunted a woman-thing, could pass, with
the warm dark velvet touch of dropping lids, not into
the nullity of sleep, but into the grey place, limitless,
timeless, where consciousness knows nothing of the
She shut her eyes with the sigh of a tired dog, and
instantly her soul lay back and floated, resting.
There was no time, no thought, no feeling. There
was peace — quiet— grey ness. At unmeasured intervals
realization washed over her like waves, waves of peace —
quiet — greyness. Greyness — she worshipped the blessed
greyness. She wanted to give it a beloved name and
LEG E N 1 >
know none. ' Whon I am dead ! ' — ' For ever and ever,
Amen ! ' — So she cam< nearest to ' Eternity.'
Peace — quiet— greyness: greyness enduring fur ever,
i fin i could \f\ be rent asunder tike a temple veil and
let in misery— the window glare, the reeking room, the
clodding Footsteps, the fingers tapping at her door — a
frail eternity whose walls were dips of flesh.
She called harshly —
" ( iet out ! Get away ! Put it down outside then,
can't you? "
There was a mutter and the clank of a scuttledid,
and a thud. The footsteps shuffled out of hearing.
She shut her eyes again.
Peace- — quiet — greyness. The waves were rocking her.
She did not dream. There are, by that same pity
of God, no dreams permitted in the place of refuge.
But, as she lay in peace, she watched her own memorial
thoughts rising about her, one by one, like bubbles in
a glass, like cocks crowing in the dark of the
A white road . . . the hill-top wind panting down it
like a runner . . . dust . . . bright blue sky . . . sky-
blue succory in the gutter . . . succory is so difficult
to pick . . . tough ... it leaves a green cut on one's
finger . . . succory in a pink vase on the mantel-piece
. . . the fire's too hot for flowers . . . hot buttered
toast . .the armchair wants mending . . . the horse-
hair tickles one's ears as one lies back in it and warms
one's toes and watches the rain drowning the fields
outside . . . empty winter fields, all tousled and tus-
socky from cow dung . . . grey skies . . . snow . . .
not a soul in sight . . . and succory in a pink vase on
the mantel-piece . . . because one's back in Eden . . .
summer and winter are all one in Eden . . . picking
buttercups in Eden as one used to do . . . all the fields
grown full of buttercups . . . fifty buttercups make a
bunch . . . fifty golden buttercups with the King's head
on them . . . hurry up with the buttercups . . . one
more bunch of buttercups will buy back Eden — Eden
So, with a long gasping sigh would come the end.
" Eden — " and the longing would be upon her, tearing
like a wild beast at her eyes and her throat and her
heart — " I want to go home. Oh God, let me go
home ! Let me out ! Let me out ! I want to go
The chapter ended.
"And does she?" I looked up at the Baxter
girl. "I'm always afraid of a bad ending. Does
she get back in the end ? "
The Baxter girl fluttered through the pages.
" The money's stolen first — a man takes it —
while she's asleep Oh, it's beastly, that scene.
She has to save it all up again. It takes her years.
But — oh, yes, she does go back."
" The railway journey," said Miss Howe. " Do
you remember? "
" If you want happy endings — " the Baxter girl
flattened out the last page with a jerk — " there
you are ! "
I read over her shoulder. The strong scent that
hung about her seemed to float between me and the
" Here we are — where she gets to the station.
' Eden,' Madala calls it, but the woman calls it
At last and nt ln-.t the Station-board with the familiar
name flashed past her window. She thrilled. The
station lamps repeated it as the train slowed down.
She thought — how long the platform's grown ! . . . a
bookstall ! . .a bookstall on each side ! . . . there
used not to be . . . wasn't the -tat ion smaller? . . .
She spoke to the ticket collector shyly, blushing, like
a girl going to an assignation and thinking that all 1 1 1 • -
world must know it.
He answered, already catching at the ticket of th«<
traveller behind her —
" How far to Breckonridge ? A mile, maybe — but
you get the tram at the corner."
She stared. She would have questioned him again,
but the throng of people pressed her forward.
A tram through the village ? . . . queer ! . . . not
that it mattered to her . . . she would take the old
short cut through the fields outside the station yard. . . .
There was a stile . . . and a wild cherry tree. . . .
She left the yard, the unfamiliar yard with asphalt
and motors and a great iron bridge, crossed the road,
and stopped bewildered.
There were no fields.
' Station Road.' The labelled yellow villas were like
a row of faces. Eyes, nose, mouth — windows, porch,
steps — steps like teeth. They grinned.
In a sort of panic she ran past them down the road,
a lumbering, clumsy woman. She trod on her skirt,
and recovered herself with difficulty. She heard a small
boy laugh and call after her. She clambered on to the
" I want to go to the village — to Breckonridge "
" It's all Breckonridge. 'Ow far ? "
" I don't remember. He said a mile."
" Town 'All, I expect." He took his toll and passed on
She turned vaguely to a neighbour.
" Town Hall ? I don't remember. The road's all
different. Where are the fields ? "
The neighbour nodded.
" Built over. When were you here last ? Thirty
years ? My word, you'll find changes ! I notice it,
even in five. Very full it's getting Good train ser-
vice. My husband can get to his office under the
She said dazedly —
" It was — it is — a little village."
The woman laughed.
" I daresay. But how long ago ? "
" There were fields," she said under her breath
" There were flowers "
" Here's the Town Hall. Didn't you want the Town
Hall ? "
Unsteadily she rose and got out. The tram clanged
She stood on an island where four roads met and
looked about her. The sun stared down at her, a
brazen city sun. The asphalt was hot and soft under
her feet. Road-menders were at work in the fair-way.
They struck alternately at the chisel between them and
it was as if the rain of blows fell upon her. She felt
stupid and dizzy. She did not know where to turn.
There was nothing left of her village, and yet the place
was familiar. There were drab houses and rows of
shops and a stream of traffic, and the figures of women
and men — menacing, impersonal figures of men — that
hurried towards her down the endless streets.
" Well? " said the Baxter girl.
" But that's not the end?" I said.
The Baxter girl looked at me oddly.
'Why not?" An.l then— "How elac could it
end? How would you make it end ?
"Ob, I don't mean " I began. I hesitated.
" I don't think I quite understand," I said.
That was the truth. At the time- I couldn't
follow it. It moved me. It swept me along. .But
whether it was good or bad I didn't know. 1 hadn't
the faintest idea of what it was driving at. I fell
in a vague way that the people at home wouldn't
have liked it.
" What docs it mean? " I said to the Baxter girl.
" That you can't eat your cake and have it, I
suppose. You can get out of Eden, but you can I
Anita answered her contemptuously —
" Is that all it means to you? "
And yet we had spoken very softly. But Anita
had eyes that ate up every movement in a room,
and her small pretty ears never seemed to miss a
significant word though ten people were talking.
I had seen her glance uneasily at us and again at
the two in the other room. I knew Great -aunt \
mutter was too low even for her, and Kent Rehan
only nodded now and then, but even that annoyed
her. She lifted her own voice to be sure that they
should hear all that she said, as if afraid lest, ev« n
for a moment, she should be left out of their
" Oh ! " she said loudly and contemptuously, " I
tell you what / see."
She succeeded, if that pleased her. Kent Rehan
raised his head and stared across at her with that
impersonal expression of attention that, I was
beginning to realize, could always anger her on any
face. She had said a little while ago that she only
cared for Miss Grey as an artist, and I believe that
she believed it. But I don't think — I shall never
think it true. I think Anita depended — depends, on
other people more than she dreams. Poor Anita !
I can see her now, her whole personality challenging
those dark abstracted eyes. But she spoke to the
" When Madala Grey chose Eden Walls for her
title — when she flung it in the public face "
I saw him give a shrug of fatigue or distaste — I
couldn't tell which. Great-aunt, who had been
sitting, her head on one side, with her sharp poll-
parrot expression, crooked her finger at me. I went
across to her and behind me I heard the Baxter girl —
" You talk as if she were in a passion "
So she was. I'm telling you. It's the wrongs,
not of one woman, but of all women, of all ages of
women, that burn behind it."
" Votes for Women ! " It was Mr. Flood's voice.
There was a laugh and I lost an answer. I caught
only a vehement blur of words, because Great-aunt
had me by the wrist.
" Chatter, chatter ! I can't hear 'em. What's
my daughter talking about? "
1. EC. K N I)
" About books, Auntie.""
" Whose books ? *' she pounced.
" Some writer, Auntie.*'
"What's she saying about her, eh ? ' She held
me bent down to her. I glanced al Kent Rehan.
Hi was listening to us. I felt harried.
"About — oh — whether a genius — whether she
was a genius
" Yes, Auntie."
I thought I heard him sigh. And at that— why.
1 don't know — I turned on him. I was rude, I
believe. I sounded silly and cruel, I know. Yet,
heaven knows, that that was the last thing I wanted
I said angrily to him —
" Oh, why do you stand there and listen ? Don't
you see that I can't help myself? Why don't you
go away ? What good can it do you to stay here,
to stay and listen to it all ? "
Then I stopped because he look< d at me for a
moment, and Hushed, and then did turn away, back
again to his old dreary post at the street window.
" That's right, little Jenny. Take your own way
with them, Jenny ! "
I said —
" Let me go, Auntie dear," and I loosed her hand
from my wrist and went after him : for of course
the instant the words were out of my mouth I was
ashamed of myself. I couldn't think what had
possessed me. I was badly ashamed of myself.
I came to him and said —
"Mr. Rehan — I don't mean to be rude. Great-
aunt— she doesn't understand. She made me talk.
It wasn't rudeness; but you stood there, and I
knew — I thought I knew, what you must think, must
be thinking — " (but 'feeling' was the word I
meant) " and I was sorry. I was angry because I
was sorry. I didn't mean to be rude."
He said —
" It's all right. I didn't think you rude."
Then I said —
"But I meant it. Why do you stay? What
good can it do you ? Why don't you go away from
it all ? "
And he —
' Where is there to go ? I've been tramping all
' I don't know. Up and down streets. It's —
it's blinding, it's stifling "
'The fog is," I said quickly. But we didn't
mean the fog.
He let himself down into the low wicker chair. I
stood leaning against the sill, watching him.
" You're just dead tired." I said.
He nodded. Then, as if something in my words
had stung him —
Where else? I've always eomc here. Every
month. It was natural to comr."
" But now — " I said (and I was so urgent with
him because of all their talk that drummed still in
my mind like a wasps' nest) — " I'd go away if I
were you. What good does it do you ? They talk.
It's — it's rather hateful. I've been listening. I'd
" Where? " he said again. And I —
"Haven't you anyone — at home?'
But as I asked 1 knew that he hadn't. He had
the look. Oh, he wore good clothes and I knew he
wasn't poor. But it was written all over him that
he looked after himself and did it expensively and
badly. He had, too, that other look that goes with
it — of a man who has never found anyone more
interesting to him than himself. And the queer part
was that it didn't seem selfish in him — and I'm sure
it wasn't. It was just like the way a child takes
you for granted, and tells you about its own big
affairs, and never guesses that you have your own
little affairs too. I suppose it was a fault in him;
but it made me like him. And he talked to me
simply and almost as if he needed helping out; as
if he'd been just anybody. I never had to help out
anyone before : it had always been the other way
round. I'd thought, too, that celebrated people
were always superior and brilliant and overwhelming,
like Anita and Mr. Flood. But he wasn't. He was
as simple as A. B.C. I liked him. I did like him.
I felt happier, more at peace, standing there with
him than I had felt since I had been in Anita's
house. I think he would have gone on talking to
me too, if it hadn't been for the Baxter girl. She
spoilt it. She tilted back her chair yawning, and
so caught sight of us, and laughed, and leaning over
to Miss Howe, whispered in her ear. She was a
crazy girl. At once I got up and came across to
them, panic-stricken, hating her. I had to. I
didn't want him worried, and you never knew what
hateful thing the Baxter girl wouldn't say, and
think that she was pleasing you.
But without knowing it, Anita helped me. Her
voice, rising excitedly in answer to some word of
Mr. Flood's, recalled the Baxter girl.
"Mystery? Of course there's a mj^stery ! She
was at the height of her promise in Ploughed Fields.
It's as good as Eden Walls in matter and, technically,
better still. The third book ought to have settled
her place in modern literature for good and all.
It ought to have been her master-piece. But what
does she do? We expect a chaplet of pearls, and
she gives us a daisy-chain. Isn't that a mystery
worth solving? Won't people read the Life for
that if for nothing else ? Am I the only person who
has asked what happened to her between her second
and her third books ? "
" I tell you, but you won't listen," Mr. Flood
insisted. " Your romantic has become a realist and
is flying from it to the resting-place of romance."
" 1 do listen. Just so. You use your words and
I use mine, but we mean the same thing. She's
been bruising herself against facts. She has been
walled up by facts. Hei \ ision is gone. Now whal
was, in her ease, the all-obscuring fact? '
" She was a woman,*' said the blonde lady. " It
could only be one thing. Don't I know the signs ?
She even lost her sense of humour."
"Yes, she did, didn't she?" cried the Baxter
girl in a voice of relief. " Oh, I remember one day,
just before the engagement was announced "
"As if that had anything to do with it,'' said
" — and she'd been so absent-minded I couldn't
get anything out of her. I thought I knew her well
enough to tease her. I had told her all my affairs.
So — ' I believe you're in love,' I said. ' Oh, well,
you'll get over it. It's a phase." Was there any
harm in that? It was only repeating what you had
said to me about her, you know," she reminded
the blonde lady. " But she froze instantly. She
made no comment. She just changed the subject.
But I felt as if I had been introduced to a new
Madala. I wished I hadn't said it."
" You are a little fool, Beryl," said the blonde
" But she was altered," insisted the Baxter girl.
" The old Madala would have laughed."
" Yes, she was altered," said Anita. " Her whole
altitude to herself and her work changed that
spring. How she horrified me one day. It was
soon after Ploughed Fields came out, and we were
talking about her new book, at least I was, pumping
a little I confess, and suddenly she said — ' Anita,
I don't think I'll write any more. This stuff — '
she had her hands on Eden Walls, ' it's harsh, it's
ugly ; and so's Ploughed Fields. Isn't it ? ' ' It's
true to life,' I said, ' that's the triumph of it.' ' Is
it? ' she said. She looked at me in an uneasy sort
of way. And then — -' I'd like to write a kind book,
a beautiful book.' I told her that she couldn't,
that she was a realist. ' That's why,' she said, ' I
don't think I'll write any more.' I laughed, of
course. Anybody would have laughed. ' Oh,' she
said, ' I mean it. I haven't an idea in my head.
I'm tired and empty. I think I shall go away for
a wander. There's always the country, anyhow.'
' Well, Madala,' I said, ' I think you're ungrateful.
You're a made woman. You've got your name :
you've got your line : you've got your own gift '
' Oh, that ! ' she said, as if she were flicking off a
fly. I was irritated. It was so arrogant. ' What
more do you want ? ' I asked her. ' What more can
you want? ' She said — ' I don't know,' looking at
me, you know, as if she expected me to tell her. I
disliked that mood of hers. One did expect, with
a woman of her capacity, to be entertained as it
were, to have ideas presented, not to be asked to
provide them. Then she began, a propos of nothing
at all — ' If I ever marry ' That startled me.
L E G E N I)
We'd never touched <>n the subject before. ' Oh,
my dear Madala,' I said, l you must n< vt t think of
anything so — so unnecessary. For you, of all
people, it would be fatal. It would waste your time,
it would distract your thoughts, it would narrow
your outlook, it would end by spoiling your work
altogether. I've seen it happen so often. It's
terrible to me even to think of a woman with a
future like yours, throwing it away just for the '
She interrupted me. ' I wouldn't marry for the
sake of getting married, if you mean that. Not even
for children.' "
"You didn't mean that, did you, Anita?" said
Miss Howe smiling a little.
" Certainly not. But I had always been afraid
that she might be tempted to marry for the
adventure's sake, for the mere experience, for
" Copy," said Mr. Flood. " I always said so.
" ' Oh well, Madala,' I said to her, c you know
what I think. I'm not one to quote Kipling, but —
He travels fastest who travels alone.' She looked at
me so strangely. ' Alone ? ' she said. ' Alone. It's
the cruellest word in the language. There's drown-
ing in it.' ' Well, without conceit, Madala,' I said,
' I can affirm that I have been alone, spiritually, all
my life.' ' Ah, yes,' she said, ' but you're different.'
And that," Anita broke off, " was what I liked in
Madala. She did recognize differences. She could
appreciate. She wasn't absorbed in herself. She
said to me quite humbly — ' I'm not strong, I sup-
pose ; but I don't suffice myself. I can't bear myself
sometimes. I can't bear the burden of myself.
Can't you understand ? ' ' Frankly,' I said, ' I
can't. I'm a modern woman, and the modern
woman is a pioneer. She's the Columbus of her own
individuality. She must be. It's her career. It's
her destiny.' She answered me pettishly, like a
naughty child — ' I don't want to be a pioneer.'
' You're that,' I said, ' already, whether you want
to be or not.' Then she said to me, with that danc-
ing, impish look that her eyes and her lips and her
white teeth used to manage between them — ' All
right ! If I've got to be, I will. But I'll be a
pioneer in my own way. I swear I'll shock the lot
" Oho ! " said Mr. Flood with exaggerated
"Exactly ! " Anita gave his agreement such eager
welcome. " That put me on the qui-vive. Knowing
her as I did, it was a very strong hint. I awaited
developments. Frankly, I was prepared for a
scandal, a romance, anything you please in the way
of extravagance. That's why the Carey marriage,
that tameness, upset me so. It was not what I was
expecting. Really, I don't know which was more
of a shock to me, The Resting-place or the marriage.
Hardly had I recovered from the one when "
" Oh, The Resting-place was the shock of my life
L E c; E N I >
too." lie giggled. " I mourned. I nssnro you thai
I mourned over it. Thai opening, you know —
' There was once ' — And the end again — ' So they
were married and had children and lived happily
ever after.' Pastiche ! And then to be invited to
wade through a conscientious account of how they
achieved it ! Too bad of Madala ! As if the poor
but virtuous artist' s-model weren't a drug on
the market already ! And the impecunious artist
himself — stooping, you know ! Oh, I sat in ashes."
Miss Howe clapped her hands.
"Jasper, I love you. I do love you. Did she
pull your leg too? Both legs? She did ! She did !
Oh, there's only one Madala ! "
Mr. Flood's vanity was in his cheeks while she
" Darling Jasper, I thought better of you ! Can't
you see the whole thing's a skit? Giving the jam-
pot public what they wanted ! Why, it's been out
a year and they're sucking the spoon still. It's
the resting-place ! Ask the libraries ! Oh, can't
you see? "
" If it is parody," said Mr. Flood slowly, "then,
I admit, it's unique."
"What else? You'll not deny humour to
"I do ! " the blonde lady nodded her head.
" Once a woman is in love she's quite hopeless."
" I don't see how parody could be in question,"
Anita broke in. " Anybody reading the book carc-
fully must see that she's in earnest. That's the
tragedy of it."
" The literary tragedy? "
" Not only literary. The psychological value is
enormous. It's not art, it's record. It's photo-
graphy. That happened. That happened, tragic-
ally, to Madala. Oh, not the trimmings, of course,
not the happy-ever-after. But to me it's perfectly
clear that that lapse into Family Herald romance
has had its equivalent in Madala's own life. I've
always felt a certain weakness in her character, you
know — a certain sentimentalism."
" In the author of Eden Walls ? " said Miss Howe
" No, dear lady ! But in the author of The
Resting-ylace" Mr. Flood had recovered himself.
" Skit, I tell you, skit ! " she insisted. And they
continued to bicker in undertones while Anita
summed up the situation.
" No, my theory is this — Madala Grey met some
"Carey?" asked Mr. Flood, dividing his
"No, Carey comes later. There was — an
" Episodes? " he amended.
" Possibly. But an episode anyhow, that I place
myself at the end of the Ploughed Fields period. It
may have been later, it may have been the following
summer while she was working at The Resting-
L EG EN I)
place, I'm open to conviction there. But an
episode, there must have been. In The Betting-
place she wrote it down as it ought to have hap-
" Well, obviously it didn't happen or she wouldn't
have become Mrs. Carey."
"The gentleman loved and rode away, you
" Something of the sort. Something went wrong."
" I see." Miss Howe was interested. " It's a
theory, anyhow. And then in sheer savage irony
at her own weakness "
Not a bit. In sheer weak longing-
" I see. If your theory is correct — I don't know
what you base it on "
" Internal evidence," said Anita airily.
' Then I can imagine that The Resting-place was
a relief to write. Poor Madala ! "
" And then," concluded Anita triumphantly,
" then appears Carey, and she's too worn out, too
exhausted with her own frustrated emotions to care
what happens. The book's in her head still, and she
her own heroine. He appears to her — I admit that,
it's possible that even Carey might appear to her —
as a refuge, a resting-place."
" Yes, but you don't like Mr. Carey," said the
Baxter girl. ' But if Madala did ? Isn't it possible
that in Madala's eyes ? Why shouldn't the
hero be Mr. Carey himself? "
Anita's eyes were bright with the cold anger that
she always showed at the name.
" My good girl, you know nothing about John
Carey, or you'd rule that out. Have you ever seen
him? I thought not. And yet you have seen him.
All day. Every day. When you talk of the man
in the street, whom do you mean ? What utterly
common-place face is in your mind ? Shall I tell you
what is in mine ? John Carey. Ordinary ! Ordin-
ary ! The apotheosis of the uninspired ! Oh, I
haven't any words. Look for yourself." She
rummaged furiously in the half-opened desk and
flung out a fading snapshot on a mount. " There
he is ! That's the thing she married ! ' :
" What's he doing in your holy of holies ? " Mr.
Flood's eyes seemed to bore into her desk.
Anita, still thrusting down the overflowing papers,
answered coldly —
" Madala sent it to Mother. She said that it wasn't
good enough but that it would give her an idea."
" It certainly gives one an idea," said the blonde
" And then she put in a post-script that it didn't
do him justice because the sun was in his eyes.
Defiantly, as it were. Isn't that significant ? She'd
never own to a mistake. Pride ! She had the
devil's own pride. Look at the way she took her
reviews ! And in this case she would be bound to
defend him. She'd defend anything she'd once
taken under her wing."
L KG END
•' W« 11, \(»n know,*' drawled the blonde lady, her
s on the photograph, " according to this he
topped her by two inches. I don't, somehow
him under Madala's wing." And linn — "After all,
there's something rather fascinating in bone and
" Yes, and I don't sec," the Baxter girl hurried
into defiance, " honestly I don't sec, Miss Serle, why
she shouldn't have been in love with him. Of
course, it's not a clever face, but it's good-tempered,
and it's good-looking, and there's a twinkle. Madala
loved a twinkle. And I don't see "
Anita crushed her.
" We're discussing the standards of Madala Grey."
" That's not the point cither, Anita." Mr. Flood
would sometimes rouse himself to defend the Baxter
girl. " You know something. You own to it.
What do vou know? "
" Simply that she was in love with someone else.
I've papers that prove it. Now it was either some
man whom none of us know, whom for some reason
she wouldn't let us know, or "' she hesitated.
Then she began again — " Mind you, I don't commit
myself, but — has the likeness never struck you ?
If ugh Barrington in The Resting-place and ? '
Her eyes flickered towards K< nt llehan.
Mr. Flood whistled.
" Be careful, Anita."
"He?" Miss Howe laughed, but kindly. "He's
lost to the world. He'll be worse than ever now."
" There ! " Anita dropped upon the sentence like
a hawk upon a heather bird. " You see ! You say
that ! And yet you tell me there was nothing —
nothing — between them? Didn't she rave about
him ? his talents ? his personality ? his charm ? And
then she goes and writes the story of an artist's-
model ! "
Miss Howe laughed again.
" When a thing's as obvious as that, it probably
isn't so. Besides, the artist's-model marries the
" Exactly. She leaves them, and us, cloyed with
love in a cottage. I repeat, the artist's-model
marries the artist because Madala Grey didn't. It's
the merest shadow of a solution as yet, but — isn't
that a living portrait in The Resting-place ? Oh, I
know it by heart
" Maybe it was his height that gave you the impres-
sion, less of weakness than of vagueness, as if his high
forehead touched cloud-land, and were obscured by
dreams; for his cold eyes guarded his mind from you,
and his dark beard hid his mouth."
" You do know it by heart ! " said Miss Howe.
" Of course I know it by heart. It was the first
clue. Can anybody read those lines without
recognizing him ? "
The Baxter girl persisted —
" But I don't see it. Oh, of course it is like him —
but because she borrowed his face, the story needn't
be about him. Why couldn't she just imagine tin-
story ? If she was a genius ? "
"That remains the point." said Mr. Flood.
" She was," insisted Anita stubbornly.
Miss Howe smiled and said nothing.
lb continued —
" The mere fact that she was a genius would
prevent such a descent into milk and sugar, unless
she were money-making or love-sick.*'
The blonde lady spoke —
" Just so ! Love-sick — sick of love — savage with
love — savaging her holy of holies. A parody. Lilas
But Miss Howe shook her head.
" No, no. I didn't mean that sort of parody.
Madala may have had her emotions, but shed
always be good-tempered about them. She's laugh-
ing at herself in The Resting-place as well as at us."
" But why do you cavil at it so ? " said the Baxter
" Only at its plain meaning. Grant the parody
"But why can't you just read it as it stands?
Why do you say sentimental? I — I liked it."
Anita took the book from her hand.
"But, my dear child, anybody can write this
sort of thing. Where's the passage the ladies'
papers rave about, where they have a day on the
river together? " She whipped over the pages while
I said to the Baxter girl —
"What is it? What's it about? What's the
" Oh, there isn't any. That's what they com-
plain of. It's just a little artist's-model who sits
to an elderly, broken-down dreamer, and thinks
him a god. The duke and door-mat touch. It's
just how two people fall in love and find it out. It's
as simple as A. B.C. But people ate it when it
" Treacle, I tell you," insisted Mr. Flood.
Anita overheard him.
" Exactly ! Listen to this —
. . . and they landed at last in a meadow of brilliant,
She had no words in which to say a thousand times
' How beautiful ! ' Words ? She had never known a
country June. She had never seen whole hedges clotted
with bloom, she had never in all her life breathed the
perfume of the may or heard a lark's ecstasy. She
had never — and to her simplicity there was no break
in the chain of thought — she had never before been
alone with him, unpaid, not his servant but his equal
and companion. How should she have words ?
She sat in the grass with the tall ox-eyes nodding
at her elbow and looked at him from under her hat
with a little eased sigh. This, after the dust of the
journey, of the day, of her life, was bliss. She prepared
herself for this bliss, deliberately, as she did everything.
She was too poor and too hungry to be wasteful of her
happiness : she must have every crumb. Therefore she
had looked first at herself, critically, with her trained
eye, fingering the frill of her blouse, flinging a scatter
of skirt across heir dusty city feet, lesl her po v er t y
should j;ir his thoughts of her.
'I'll, n ahe looked at him. She -aw him f< »r a moment
with undazzled eyes, the blue sky enriohed with clo
behind him. She was Baying to herself — 'I'm not a
Eool. 1 can sec Btraight. 1 know what ho is. He's
just an ordinary man in :i hot, Mack suit. He stoops,
I suppose. He's worn out with work. He'll never he
young again. And there's nothing particular about
him. Then what makes me like him? But I do. 1
do. He has only to turn and smile at me '
Then he turned and smiled at her, and it seemed t<>
her that the glamour of the gilded day passed o\ er
and into him as ho smiled, glorifying him so that she
caught her breath at his beauty. She knew her happi-
ness. She knew herself and him. He was the sum of
the blue sky and green, green grass, and the shining
waters and the flowers with their sweet smell, and the
singing birds and the hum of the little tilings of the air.
All beauty was summed up in him : lie was food to
her and sunshine and music : he was her absolute good :
and she thought that someone ought to see that hi-
socks were mended properly, for there was a great
ladder down one ankle, darned with wrong-coloured
" Well ? " She shut the book.
" I like it," said the Baxter girl stubbornly.
Mr. Flood twisted uneasily in his seat.
" Oh, pretty, of course. Of course it's pleasant
enough in a way. But Madala oughtn't to be
pretty. Think of the stuff she can do."
" But can't you see," Miss Howe broke in, " how
it parodies the slush and sugar school? '
Anita shook her head.
" She used another manner when she was ironical.
I wish you were right. Oh, you may be — I must
consider — but I'm afraid that she is in earnest.
That phrase now — ' The green, green grass,' (why
double the adjective ?) ' the shining waters, the sing-
ing birds ' — pitiful ! And that anti-climax — ' He
was her absolute good : and she thought that
someone ought to see that his socks were mended
properly.' I ask you— is it art? "
' Not as serious work, of course," said Miss
Howe, "but "
" I wish I could think so," said Anita.
" Well, I wish I could do it," said the Baxter
girl. " What do you say, Jenny? "
But it had brought back the country to me. It
had brought back home. I hadn't anything to say
" And she wouldn't discuss it, you know. She
came in after supper that night, just as I was reading
the last chapter. It had only been out a day.
There she sat, where you are now, Lila, smiling,
with her hands in her lap and her eyes fixed on her
hands, waiting for me to finish."
" Oh — " Miss Howe gave a little gushing scream,
" that reminds me — d'you know, Anita, some-
body actually told me that nobody had seen The
Resting-place before it was published, not even you.
I was amused. I denied it, of course."
"Why?" said Anita coldly.
I . E GEND
.Miss Howe screamed again.
•"I'll. 11 you didn't f Oh, my dear? "
"Emancipation with a vengi ;mce," said Mr. Flood.
"It had to come, Anita," said Miss Howe with
" It was not t hat. It was only — she was so ext ra-
ordinarily sensitise about The Resting-place — unlike
herself altogether. I think, I've always thought
that she herself knew how unworthy it was of her.
She — what's the use of disguising it?— she. at least,
had a value for my judgment," her eyes, wandering
past Miss Howe, brooded upon the Baxter girl, " and
she knew what my judgment would be. She owned
it. She anticipated it. I had shut the book, you
know, quietly. She sat so still that I thought she
was asleep. She had had one of those insane
Of course. She used to take a crowd of children
into the country, didn't she? "
" Once a week. Slum children."
" I know. ' To eat buttercups,' she told me,"
said Miss Howe.
" It was ridiculous, you know. She couldn't
afford it. Look at the way she lived ! 1 always
said to her, 'If you can afford mad extravagances of
that sort, you can afford a decent flat in a decent
neighbourhood ' "
"Oh, but I loved those rooms," said the Baxter
girl, " with the Spanish leather screen round the
Anita glanced behind her.
" Ah, you've noticed ? I happened to admire it
one day and — you know what she is — ' Would you
like it ? Why, of course, it would just suit the rest
of your things. Oh, you must have it. I'd like
you to. It's far too big for this room.' ' Oh,' I
said, ' if you want it housed ' So that's how
it comes to be here. One couldn't hurt her feelings.
And you know, it was quite unsuitable to lodging-
Miss Howe laughed.
' It disguised the wash-hand-stand. That was
all Madala cared. Only then she always took you
round to show you how beautifully it did disguise it."
" Typical," said Mr. Flood. " Her reserves were
" But she had her reserves," said Miss Howe
" I doubt that," he answered her.
" Oh, but she had." Anita recovered her place
in the talk. " Curious reserves. You know how
she came to me over Eden Walls and Ploughed Fields.
I saw every chapter. But as I was telling you,
she wouldn't hear a criticism of The Resting-place.
That evening she pounced on me. She was as quick
as light. She said — ' You don't like it ! I knew
you wouldn't ! Never mind, Anita. Forget it !
Put it in the fire ! You like me. What do the
books matter ? ' She'd been watching me all the
L EG EN 1)
'She had eyefl in the hack of her head/ 1 said
" Kind eyes." said the Baxter u r irl.
" And I assure yon slit- wouldn't have said another
word on the subject if I hadn't insisted. I told her
not to be ridiculous. How could I help being dis-
appointed? How could I separate her from her
work? I was disappointed, bitterly. I made it
clear. I said to her — ' Well, Madala, all I can say
is that if your future output is to be on a level with
this — this pot-boiler "
" It's not a pot-boiler," said the Baxter girl loudly
and quite rudely. " I don't know exactly what it
is, but it's not a pot-boiler."
Anita stared her down.
" ' — pot-boiler,' I said, ' then — I wash my hands
of you.' I wanted to rouse her. I couldn't under-
"Well?" said Miss Howe.
They all laughed.
" Oh, you can guess." Anita was petulant, but
she, too, laughed a little. " You know her way.
She just sat smiling and twisting a ring that she
wore and looking like a scolded child."
"But what did she say?" said the Baxter girl.
" Nothing to the point. ' Oh,' she said, ' but
Anita, if I'd never written anything, wouldn't
you be just as fond of me ? ' Such a silly thing to
say ! She was distressing at times. She embar-
rassed me. Fond of her ! She knew my interests
were intellectual. Fond of her ! For a woman of
her brains her standard of values was childish."
" But you were fond of her, you know," said
" Oh, as for that — there was something about
her — she had a certain way After all, if it gave
her pleasure to be demonstrative, it was easier to
acquiesce. But she made a fetish of such things.
I was only trying to explain to her, as I tell you,
that it was quite impossible to separate creator and
creatures, and that to me she was Eden Walls and
Ploughed Fields, and if you believe me, she was upon
me like a whirlwind, shaking me by the shoulders,
and crying out — ' No, no, stop ! You're to stop !
It's me you like, not the books. I hate them. I
hate all that. I shall get away from all that one
day.' And I said — ' I don't wonder you're ashamed
of The Resting-place. I advise you to get to work
at once on your new book. You'll find that if you
pull yourself together — — ' And all she said was
— ' Nita ! Nita ! Don't ! ' And she looked at me
in such a curious way "
" How ? " somebody said.
" I don't know— laughing — despairing. She'd no
right to look at me like that. It was I who was in
'I'd like to have seen you two," said Miss
' I didn't know what had got into her. Of course
I blame myself. I ought to have followed it out.
I illicit have prevented things. Hut I was annoyed
and she saw it, and she "
Miss Howe twinkled.
"She wouldn't let you be annoyed with her long.
Wha1 did she do witli you. Anita ? "
"She? I don't know what you mean. We
changed the subject. And us a matter of fact I was
much occupied at the time with the Anthology"
She paused. " She had excellent taste," said Anita
regretfully. "Naturally 1 reserved to myself the
final decision, but "
" Just so," said Mr. Flood.
" Be quiet, Jasper." The blonde lady's draperies
dusted his shoulder intimately.
" She'd brought me a delicious thing of Lady
Nairn's, I remember, that I'd overlooked. And
from talking of the Anthology we came, somehow,
to talking about mc. Yes — " Anita gave an embar-
rassed half laugh — " She began to talk to mc, turn-
ing the tables as it were — about myself. She'd
never, in all the years I'd known her, taken such
a tone. Astonishing! As if — as if I were the
younger." She stared at them, as one combating
an unuttered criticism. " I— liked it," said Anita
defiantly. "There was nothing impertinent. It
was heartening. She made me feel that one person
in the world, at least, knew me — knew my work.
I realized, suddenly, that while I had been studying
her, she must have been studying mc, that she
understood my capacities, my limitations, my
possibilities, almost as well as I did myself. The
relief of it — indescribable ! She was extraordinarily
plain-spoken. As a rule, you know, I thought her
manner— — "
"Insincere?" said the Baxter girl. ""Yes, I've
heard people say that."
" It had that effect. It didn't seem possible that
she could like everj^one as much as she made them
think she did. But with me, at least, she was always
frankness itself. She believes, you know, — she
believed, that is, that all my work so far, even the
Anthology and the Famous Women series, not to
mention the lighter work, is still preliminary : that
my — " she hesitated — " my master-piece, she called
it, was still to come. She said that, though she
appreciated all my work, I hadn't ' found my-
self.' Yes ! from that child to me it was amusing.
But right, you know. She said that my line, whether
I dealt with a period or a person, w r ould always be
critical, but that I'd never had a big success because
so far I'd been merely critical : that I'd never
become identified with my subject : that I'd always
remained aloof — inhuman. Yes, she said that. A
curious theory — but it interested me. But she said
that it was only the real theme I needed, the en-
grossing subject. She said that my chance would
come : that ' she felt it in her bones.' I can hear
her voice now r — ' Don't you worry, Nita ! It'll
come to you one day. A big thing. Biography, I
shouldn't wonder. And I shall sit and say — I told
you so — I told you so ! ' Y. s. she talked like thai .
Oh, it's nothing when I repeal it, but if you knew
how it seemed to poui mw Life into me. It was
the belief in her voice ! "
"She always believed in you," said Miss Howe
with a certain harshness. " Insincere ! You should
have heard her talk of your Famous Women /" And
then — " Yes. She believed in you right enough."
"More than I did in her that night. I couldn't
forget The Resting-place. It lay on the table, and
every now and then, when I felt most comfort in
her, my eyes would fall on it, and it would jar me.
She felt it too. "When I saw her off at last — it had
grown very late — she stopped at the gate and
turned and came running back. I thought that
she had forgotten her handbag. She nearly always
forgot her handbag. But no, it was The Resting-
place that was on her mind. It was — ' Nita ! try
it again. Maybe you'd like it better.' And then —
1 Nita ! I enjoyed writing it so.' ' That's something,
at any rate,' I said, not wanting, you know, to be
unkind. Then she said—' I wish you liked it.
Because, you know, Nita — ' and stopped as if she
wanted to tell me something and couldn't make
up her mind. ' Well, what ? ' I said. It was cold
on the steps. She hesitated. She looked at me.
For an instant I had an absurd impression that she
was going to cry. Then she kissed me. She'd
kissed me good-night once already, though, you
know, we never did as a rule. And then, off she
went without another word. I was quite bewildered
by her. I nearly called her back; but it was one
of those deep dark blue nights : it seemed to swallow
her up at once. But I heard her footsteps for a
long while after — dragging steps, as if she were
tired. T wasn't. It was as if she had put some-
thing into me. I went back into the house and I
worked till daylight. And all the next day I
worked — worked well. I felt, I remember, so hope-
ful, so full of power. By the evening I had quite a
mass of material to show her, if she came. I half
expected her to come. But instead — " she fumbled
among her papers — " I got this."
It was a sheet of note-paper, a sheet that looked
as if it had been crushed into a ball and then
smoothed out again for careful folding. Anita's
fingers were still ironing out the crinkled edge while
she read it aloud.
" I want to tell you something. I tried to tell you
yesterday, but somehow I couldn't. It oughtn't to be
difficult, yet all this afternoon I've been writing to you
in an exercise book, and crossing out, and re -phrasing,
and putting in again as carefully and dissatisfiedly as
if it were Opus 4. I wish it were, because then you'd
be very much pleased with Madala Grey and forget
the dreadful shock of Opus 3 ! I was always afraid
you wouldn't like it, and sorry, because I like it more
than all my other work put together. Have you never
even begun to guess why ? But how should you, when
I didn't know myself until after it was finished ? Coming
events, I suppose. It's quite true — one isn't overtaken
L EG END
by fate : one prepares em's own fate : one carrion it
about inside one, like a child. I hear you say — 'Can't
yon come to the point ? ' X'», I can't. Partly I >< -en use
I'm afraid of what you'll Bay, because I'm afraid you'll
1" disappointed, and partly, -• Iti-hly, because tin -re is
a queer pleasure in beat inn about the hush that bears
my flower. It's too beautiful to pick straight away
in one rough snatch of a sentence. Am I selfish ?
You've been so kind to me. 1 know you will be sorry
and that troubles me. And yet — Anita, I am going to !>••
married. You met him once in the churchyard at home,
do you remember ? I've seen him now and then when
I took the children down there in the summer. He
There's something scratched out here," said Anita.
" I think we shall be happy. When you get accus-
tomed to the idea I hope you will like him."
" Now what do you make of that ? " said Anita.
" It explains the expeditions with the children,"
said Mr. Flood. "They were always too — philan-
thropic, to be quite — eh? "
" Oh, but she began those outings ages ago,"
said Miss Howe quickly.
" Besides," said Anita, " she didn't go every week
that summer. That's the point. She told me her-
self that she was so busy that she had to get help —
one of those mission women. Now why was she so
" Diversions in the country and attractions in
town? " said Mr. Flood. " It all takes time."
"You think that? So do I. And attractions
in town ! Exactly ! At any rate I shall make that
the big chapter, the convincing chapter, of the
Life. I think I shall be able to prove that that
summer was the climax of her affairs. I grant
you that she met Carey that summer, but as she
says herself, a few times only. We must look
nearer home than Carey."
" Oh, but there's such a thing as love at first
sight," protested the Baxter girl, and iVnita dealt
with her in swift parenthesis —
" I was there when they first met. Shouldn't I
have realized ? " And then, continuing — "Well,
reckon up my points. To begin with — the difference
in her that we all noticed, the restlessness, the —
unhappiness one might almost say, the aloofness —
oh, don't you know what I mean ? as if she didn't
belong to us any more."
" As if she didn't belong to herself any more."
" Yes, yes, that's even more what I mean. Then
comes the fact that we saw so little of her. What
did she do with her time? Writing The Resting-
place, was her explanation, but — is that gospel?
Do you really believe that she sat at home writing
and dreaming all those long summer days and
nights, except when she was — eating buttercups —
with Carey and her chaperons? And then comes
The Resting-place with its appalling falling-off, and
following on that, this letter, this sudden engage-
in nt. Now doesn't it look — I ask you, doesn't
it look as if something had been going on behind
all our backs and had at last come to a head? '
"Oh, that she was in love is certain," said Mr.
Flood. "Was there ever a woman of genius who
" Exactly. It's a moral certainty. And this
letter to me proves that, whoever it was, it wasn't
Carey. ' I think wc shall be happy.' ' I hope
you will like him.' Is that the way a woman writes
of her first love or her first lover? "
" Oh, but that sentence just before " the
Baxter girl stretched out her hand for the letter —
" • The bush that bears my flower ' ' She spoke
sympathetically; but it jarred me. I wondered
how I should feel if I thought that the Baxter girl
would ever read my letters aloud.
"Ah, that's the literary touch. Madala could
never resist embroideries. Besides — she wants to
confuse me. That means nothing. But here, you
sec " she took the letter out of the Baxter girl's
hand — " as soon as she comes to the point, the real
point, the confession, the apologia — then the baldest
sentences. Try to remember that Madala Grey has
written one of the strongest love scenes of the
decade, and all she can say of the man she is to
marry is — ' I hope you will like him.' '
" Urn ! It's curious ! " Miss Howe was frowning.
"Isn't it? And then you know, the whole
manner of the engagement was so unlike her usual
triumphant way. She always swept one along,
didn't she ? But in the matter of the marriage she
seems, as far as I can make out, to have been
perfectly passive. She left everything to the man
— arrangements — furniture — I imagine she even
bought her clothes to please him. And the wedding
itself — no reception, no presents, no notice to any-
one, so sudden, so private. Not a word even to her
oldest friends "
Great-aunt stirred in her corner.
" — there was something so furtive about it all :
as if she were running away from something."
Miss Howe sat up.
" D'you mean? — what do you mean, Anita?
Are you hinting ?"
Anita looked at her in a puzzled way that relieved
me, I hardly knew why.
" Why, only that it carries out my theory — of
Carey as a refuge."
" Life — frustration — what did you think I
" I don't know. Nothing. It was my evil mind,
I suppose." She flushed.
"How she harps on the child ! " the Baxter girl
carried it on.
" That's a mere simile " said Miss Howe
"But a queer simile ! "
" The marriage was sudden," said Mr. Flood from
L E G K N D
the floor in his silky voice. ''Anita's theory has iis
" A seven months' child ! It \v;is the first word
that t lie blonde lady had said for some time. There
was something sluggishly cold, slimily cold, in her
" I never suggested that," she said sharply, lint
there was a quiver in her voice that was more
excitement than anger.
"My dear lady, nobody suggests anything. We
are only remarking that the union of onr Madala
and her ' refuge ' — the soubriquet is yours, by the
way — was as surprising as it was — er — sudden.
That was your idea? r He turned to the shadows
and from them the blonde lady nodded, smiling.
At the time, you know, I didn't understand them.
They were so quick and allusive. They said more
in jerks and nods and pauses than in actual speech.
But I saw the smile on that woman's face, and
heard the way he said ' our Madala.' I felt myself
growing angry and panic-stricken, and I was quite
helpless. I just went across the room to that big
man sitting dully in his corner, in his dream, and I
caught his arm and cried to him under my breath —
" You must come. You must come and stop
them. They're talking about her. Come quickly.
They — they're saying beastly things."
He gave me one look. Then he got up and went
swiftly from one room to the other. But swiftly
as he moved and I followed, someone else was there
before us to fight that battle.
It was Great- aunt Serle.
She was a heavy old woman and feeble. She
never stirred as a rule without a helping arm ; but
somehow she had got herself out of her seat and
across the floor to the table, and there she stood,
her knitting gripped as if it were a weapon, the
long thread of it stretched and taut from the ball
that had rolled round the chair-leg, her free hand
and her tremulous head jerking and snapping and
poking at that amazed assembly as she rated
" I won't allow such talk. Anita, I won't have
it. If I let you bring home friends — ought to know
better ! And you " the blonde lady was spitted,
as it were, on that unerring finger, " you're a wicked
woman. That's what you are — a wicked, scandalous
woman. And you, Anita, ought to be ashamed of
yourself, to let her talk so of my girl. Such a
woman ! Paint and powder ! Envy, hatred,
malice ! And in my house too ! Tell her to wash
her face ! " She glowered at them.
There was a blank pause and then a sound some-
where, like the end of a spurting giggle. It must
have been the Baxter girl. There was a most
uncomfortable moment, before Anita cried out
'' Mother!" in a horrified voice, and Miss Howe
said " Beryl ! " in a voice not quite as horrified.
But the blonde lady sat through it all quite
LEG EN 1)
calmly, smiling and moistening her lips. At last
she drawled out —
"Nita! Your dear mother's quite upset. So
sorry, Nita ! ' Then, a very little lower, but vre
could all hear it — " Poor dear Nita! Quite a trial
for poor dear Nita ! "
Hut Anita had jumped up. She was very much
flustered and annoyed. I think, too, that she was
startled. I know that I was startled. Great-aunt
didn't look like herself. She was like a witch in a
picture-book, and her voice had been quite strong
Anita tried to quiet her and get her away.
" Mother ! You must be quiet ! IVyou hear
me, Mother? You don't know what you're say-
ing. You've been up too long. You're overdone.
It's time you went to bed."
She took her firmly by the arm. But Great-aunt
struggled with her.
" I won't. Leave me alone. It's your fault,
Anita. You sat and listened. You let them talk
that way about my girl."
" Now, Mother, what nonsense ! Your girl !
Madala's not your daughter." And then, in
apology — " She's always confusing us. She gets
"Not mine? Ah! That's all you know!
' Anita upstairs? ' That's how she'd come running
in to me. 'Are you busy, Mrs. Serlc?' Always
looked in to my room first. Brought me violets.
Talked. Told me all her troubles. You never
knew. Not mine, eh ? Didn't I see her married,
my pretty girl ? ' Hole-and-corner business ! '
That's what you tell them? 'Nobody knew.'
But I knew."
Anita's hand dropped from her mother's arm.
She stared at her.
"You, Mother? You there?" And then,
angrily, " Oh, I don't believe it."
" Don't believe it, eh ? But it's true, for all I'm
lumber in my own house. I'm to go to bed before
the company comes, before she comes. Don't she
want to see me then ? Who pinned her veil for her
and kissed her and blessed her, and took her to
church, and gave her to him? Not you, my
daughter. She didn't come to you for that."
And then, with a slacking and a wail, " Eh, but we
were never to tell ! "
-t Mother, you'd better come to bed. I "
there was the faintest suggestion of menace in her
voice — " I'll talk to you tomorrow."
The old woman shrank away.
' I won't come. I know. You want me out of
the way. You don't want me to see her. What
are you going to say about me ? You'll say things
to her about me. I've heard you."
Quite obviously Anita restrained herself.
' Now, Mother, you know } 7 ou don't mean that."
'Hush!" Great-aunt pulled away her hand.
" Quiet, child, quiet ! Wasn't that the cab? I've
listened all the evening, all the lon<^ evening." II< r
old voice thinned and sharpened to a chirp. " Soft,
soft, the wheels ^o by. The wheels never stop.
Wait till the wheels stop. It's the fog that's
keeping her. There's fog everywhere. Maybe sin's
lost in the fog." Then she chuckled to herself.
"Naughty girl to be so late. But she's always
late. Why should I go to bed? I've got to finish
my knitting, Nita. Only two rows, Nita. They'll
just last me till she conies." And then, " Anita,
she will come? "
Anita turned to the others.
"Don't be alarmed. It's nothing. I'm afraid
she hasn't realized ' She began again — " Now,
Mother ! It's bed-time, Mother dear."
"'Dear' — 'dear' — why do you speak kindly?
Madala's not here to listen." And then — "Nita,
Nita child, let me stay till she comes. "
Anita was quite patient with her, and quite
"Now listen, Mother! It's no use waiting.
Come upstairs with mc. She won't " her voice
altered, " she can't come tonight."
Beside me Kent Rehan spoke —
" I can't stand it," he said. " 1 can't stand it.
I can't stand it." He didn't seem to know that he
But Great-aunt heard his voice if she didn't hear
the words. She broke away from Anita and went
shuffling over the iloor towards him with blind
movements. She would have fallen if he hadn't
been beside her in an instant, holding her.
" Kent, d'you hear her ? You know my daughter.
You know Madala too. You speak to her ! You
tell her ! Madala always comes, doesn't she ?
always comes. You tell her that ! I want to
see Madala. Very good to me, Madala. Brought
me a bunch of violets."
:t Kent, for goodness' sake, try to help me. She'll
make herself ill. I shall have her in bed for days.
Now, Mother Now come, Mother ! "
Great-aunt clung to his arm.
" She's not kind. My daughter's very hard on
For the first time Anita showed signs of agitation.
She was almost appealing.
" Kent ! You mustn't believe her. It's not
fair. You see my position. One has to be firm.
And you don't know how trying What am I
to do? Shall I tell her? She's as obstinate— I'll
never get her to bed. Ought I to tell her ? She'll
have to be told sooner or later. She'll have to
He said —
" I'll talk to her if you like."
Anita looked at him intently.
"' It's good of you. She has always listened to
you. Since you and I were children together. Do
you remember, Kent? Yes, you talk to her."
1 What's she Baying f" demanded Great-aunt.
Her old eyes were bright with suspicion. " Talking
you over, ch? Talk anyone over, my daughter
will — my clever daughter. So clever. Madala
tliinks so too. 'Dripping with brains. 1 That's
what Madala said. Made me laugh. Quite true,
though. Hasn't Madala come yet?"
" Now, look here, Mrs. Serle " he put his arm
round her bent shoulders, " it's very foggy, you
know, and it's very late. Nobody could travel —
nobody could come tonight. You'll believe us,
"Wait! What's that?" She stood a moment,
her finger raised, listening intently. Then she
straightened her bowed body and looked up at him.
One so seldom saw her face lifted, shone upon by
any light, that that alone, I suppose, was enough to
change her. For changed she was — her countenance
so wise and beaming that I hardly knew her. " Now
I know," she said, " she will come. Wait for her,
Kent. She will come. I — I hear her coming. She's
not so far from us. She's not so far away."
They stared at each other for a moment, the man
and the old woman. Then her face dropped for-
ward again, downward into its accustomed shadow,
as he said to her —
" It's too late, Mrs. Serle. She won't come — now.
Not now any more. And Anita thinks — truly
you're very tired, aren't you? Now aren't you? '
" Very tired," she quavered.
" I know you are. Won't you let me help you
"And stay a bit?" she said, clutching at him.
"Stay and talk to me?"
" Yes, yes," he humoured her.
" About Madala ? "
He was very white.
" About Madala. Anita, take her other arm.
That's the way."
They helped her out of the room, and we heard
their slow progress up the stairs.
It was the blonde lady who broke the silence
with her tinkling laugh —
" Poor dear Nita ! "
" Kent's a good sort," said Miss Howe.
"What's Hecuba to him now?" Mr. Flood's
smile glinted from one to another.
" A very old friend," said the blonde lady.
" You heard what dear Nita said to him."
" ' Children together ! ' I didn't know that." He
was still smiling.
" And they always kept in touch," put in Miss
" Trust Nita for that," said the blonde lady.
Miss Howe nodded.
" She told me once that from the first she realized
that he would do big things."
" So Nita kept in touch ! " Mr. Flood laughed
" But it's only the last few years that she's
been able to produce him at will, like a conjurors
"Since Madala's advent, you mean,'' said the
" ' Will you walk into my parlour," said Anita to
the fly. 'It's a literary parlour '" murmured
Mr. Flood. And then — " No. Kent's not likely to
have walked in without a honey-pot in the parlour.
Madala must have been useful."
" That's what Miss Serle will never forgive her,
/ think," said the Baxter girl.
" That she was useful. Uo you believe in the
other man? "
" The unknown influence? ' His eyes narrowed.
" Hm ! "
" And yet of course there's been someone." The
Baxter girl never quite deserted Anita, even in her
The blonde lady nodded.
"Of course. Nita's always nearly right. The
influence — the adventures — the manage de convert-
ance — she's got it all so pat — and the man too. She
knows well enough ; yet she fights against it. She
won't have it. I wonder why. ' Very old friends '
I suppose." She laughed again. " But of course
it was Kent. Can't you see that's why Nita hates
her ? What a Life it will be ! I just long for it to
come out. Nita's a comedy."
" A tragedy."
Nita? My dear Lila ! What do you mean? "
" I'm only quoting," said Miss Howe. And
then — " But when she isn't actually annoying me
I think I agree."
" Who said it ? " said the Baxter girl inquisitively.
" Madala. It's the onty thing I've ever heard
her say of Anita. She never discussed Anita. Now
of Kent she would talk by the hour. Which proves
to me, you know, that the affair with him didn't go
very deep. Nita quoted that description of Kent just
now, but only so far as it served her. She carefully
forgot how it goes on. Here, where is it ? Ah
He brooded like a lover over his colour-box, and as
she watched him her thoughts flew to her own small
brothers at home. Geoff with his steam-engine, Jimmy
sorting stamps — there, there was to be found the same
ruthlessness of absorption, achieving dignity by its sheer
intensity. She smiled over him and them.
" Keep your face still," he ordered.
She obeyed instantly, flushing; and as she did so she
thought to herself — ' I could be afraid of that man,'
but a moment afterwards — ' He is like a small boy.'
" Now that may be Kent — oh, it is Kent, of course
— but it's not Madala's attitude to Kent. She was
not in the least afraid of him."
" Ah, but that later passage, the country passage
— that's pure Madala."
" Yes. Just where it ceases to be Kent — ' He
stoops, I suppose. He's worn out with work. He's
quite ordinary.' That's not Kent."
L EG E XD
"No, that's true. One doesn't know where to
have her. She muddles her trail," said Mr.
" I call it weakness of touch not to let you know
whom she drew from," said the Baxter girl.
" Ah, but she always insisted that she didn't draw
"Of course. They always do. If one believed
them one would never get behind the scenea, and if
one can't get behind the scenes one might as well
be mere public and read for the story," said the
Baxter girl indignantly.
'Well, you know," Miss Howe sat turning over
the pages of The Resting-place with careful, almost
with caressing fingers, " I don't believe she meant
to draw portraits. She had queer, old-fashioned
notions. I think she would have thought it —
" The portraits arc there though, if you look
close enough," insisted the Baxter girl.
" Yes, but they happened in spite of her. Any-
one she was fond of she took into her, in a sense :
and when her gift descended upon her and demanded
expression, then, all unconsciously, she expressed
them too. But gilded! We find ourselves in her
books, and we never knew before how lovable we
are. You're right, Blanche, she liked whatever she
looked on. And you're right, too, Jasper, Grande
amoureuse, she was that. That capacity for loving
made her what she was. The technical facility was
her talent and her luck ; but it was her own per-
sonality that turned it into genius."
" Then after all you admit the genius," said the
Baxter girl triumphantly.
" No. No. No. My judgment says no. When
I read her books in cold blood — no. But we've
been talking about her. It's as if she were with us,
and when she's with us my judgment goes ! That's
the secret of Madala Grey. She does what she likes
with us. But the next generation, the people who
don't know her, whether they'll find in her books
what we do, is doubtful. Who wants a dried rose ? "
" Yes, but Miss Serle— in the Life ? Won't she
— preserve her?"
" Preserve— exactly ! But not revive. No, I'd
sooner pin my faith to The Spring Song, although
I haven't seen it. It ought to be a revelation. She
eluded Nita, impishly. I've seen her do it. But
there's no doubt that she gave Kent his chance."
" Every chance. She'd deny it, I suppose."
" Oh, she did." Miss Howe laughed. " Have
you ever seen her in a temper? I have. I was a
fool. I told her one day (you know how things
come up) just something of the gossip about Kent
and her. I thought it only kind. But you should
have heard her. She was as healthily furious as a
schoolgirl. That was so comfortable about Madala.
She hadn't that terrible aloofness of really big
people. She didn't withdraw into dignity. She
just stormed." Miss Howe laughed again. " I
L E (; E n l)
can sec her now, raging up and down the room —
'Do you mean to say that people ? I never
heard of anything so monstrous] What has it
got to do with them? Why can't they leave
me alone? I've never done them any harm. I
wouldn't have believed it, pretending they liked
me, and letting me be friends with them, and then
saying hateful things behind my back. I'll never
speak to them again — never ! That they should go
about twisting things — Why can't they mind their
own business ? And dragging in Kent like that !
Oh, it does make me so wild ! ' ' Oh, well, my
dear,' I said to her, ' when two people see as much
of each other as you and Kent do, there's bound to
be talk.' At that she swung round on me. ' But
he's my friend,' she said. 'Yes,' I said, 'that's
just it.' ' But I'm not expected to marry everyone
I'm fond of!' 'Arc you fond of him. Madala?'
I asked her. ' Yes,' she said directly, ' I am. I'm
awfully fond of him. I'd do anything for him,
bless his heart ! ' ' Well,' I said, ' you needn't be
so upset. That's all that people mean. If you're
fond of him and he — he's obviously in love with
you ' But at that she caught me up in her
quick way — 'In love? Oh, you don't understand
him. Nobody understands Kent. He doesn't
understand himself. Dear old Kent ! ' Then she
began walking up and down the room again, but
more quietly, and talking, half to herself, as if she
had forgotten I was there, justifying herself, justi-
fying him. ' Dear old Kent ! Poor old Kent !
I'm awfully fond of Kent. So is he of me. But
not in the right way. He's got, when he happens
to think of it, a great romantic idea of the woman
he wants, of the wife he wants ; but the truth is,
you know, that he doesn't want a wife. He wants
a mother, and a sister, and a — a lover. A true
lover. A patienter woman than I am. A
woman who'll delight in him for his own sake,
not for what he gives her. A woman who'll put
him first and be content to come second with
him. He'll always put his work first. He can't
help it. He's an artist. Oh, not content. I didn't
mean that. She must be too big for that— big
enough to know what she misses. But a wise
woman, such a loving, hungry woman. ' Half a
loaf,' she'll say to herself. But she'll never have to
let him hear. He's chivalrous. He'd be horrified
at giving her half a loaf. He'd say — ' All or
nothing ! ' But he couldn't give her all. He
couldn't spare it. So he'd give her nothing out of
sheer respect for her. That's Kent. He's got his
dear queer theories of life — oh, they're all right
as theories — but he fits people to them, instead
of them to people. Procrustes. He'd torture a
woman from the kindest of motives. It's lack of
imagination. Haven't you noticed ? ' ' Consider-
ing he's one of the great imaginative artists of the
day, Madala,' I said to her, ' that's rather sweeping.'
' But that's why,' she said. ' It's just because he's
a genius. He lives on himself. In himself. Kent's
BJI island." 1 said ' N<» eliauer of a bridge, Ma-
il a la f ' She shook her head. ' Not my job.' I
said I was sorry. I was, too. It would have been
so ideal, that pair. I wanted to argue it with her;
hut she wouldn't listen. She said — ' If I weren't
an artist too, then maybe — maybe. I'm very fond
of Kent. But no — I'd want too much. But, you
know, there's a woman somewhere, rather like me
— I hope he'll marry her. I'd love her. She'd
never be jealous of me. She'd understand. She's
me without the writing, without the outlet. She'll
pour it all into loving him. I hope she's alive some-
where. He'd be awfully happy. And if he had
children— that's what he needs. I can just see
him with children. But not my children. If I
married ' And then she flushed up to the eyes
in that way she had, as if she were fifteen. ' I — I'd
like to be married for myself, for my faults, for the
bits I don't tell anyone. Kent would hate my
faults. I'd have to hide my realest self.' She stood
staring out of the window. Then she said, still in
that rueful, childish voice — 'I would like to be
liked.' ' But, my dear girl,' said I, ' what nonsense
you talk ! If ever a woman had friends ' She
(lung round at me again — ' If I'd not written Eden
IV alls would Anita have looked at me — or any of
you?' I said ' That's not a fair question. Your
books are you, the quintessence, the very best of
you.' ' But the rest of me ? ' she said, ' but the
rest of me ? ' I laughed at her. ' Well, what
about the rest of you ? ' Then she said, in a small
voice — -' It feels rather out of it sometimes, Lila.' :
" I say," Mr. Flood twinkled at her, " are you
going to present all this to Anita? She'd be
" Not she," said Miss Howe sharply. " Too much
fact would spoil her theory. Let her spin her own
" Agreed. There's room for more than one
biography, eh ? " They laughed together a little
" You know," the blonde lady recalled them,
" she must have been quite a good actress. She
always seemed perfectly contented."
" Imagine Madala Grey discontented," said the
Baxter girl. "How could she be?"
" Oh, Kent was at the root of that," said Miss
Howe, " for all her talk."
Mr. Flood nodded.
" Yes, the lady did protest too much, if your
" It's the only explanation and, as you said,
Blanche, in her heart Anita knows it. After all,
he's a somebody. Madala wouldn't be the only
one who's found him attractive, eh? " She cocked
"Don't be scandalous, Lila," said the blonde
lady virtuously ; and Mr. Flood gave his little sniff
"Oh, give mc five minutes," said Miss Howe
cosily. "She'll he down in five minutes. I've
been good all the evening. But I'm inclined to
agree with her, you know, that Madala was attracted,
just because Madala denied it so vehemently. Only
Anita goes too far for me. She's right, of course,
when she says of Kent — ' Not a marrying man ! '
hut not in the way she means it. There are dark
and awful things in the history of every unmarried
man, to Anita. She scents intrigue everywhere.
I'm a spinster myself, but I'm not such a spidery
spinster. She may be partly right. Some other
man, some question-mark of a man, may have
treated Madala badly. But Kent didn't. Kent isn't
that sort. Intrigue would bore him. Still, he
wasn't a marrying man in those days, and 1 think
Madala was perfectly honest when she said — 'Just
friends.' But I think also, if you ask me, that they
were far too good friends. It's not wise to be friends
with a man. You must be a woman first and let
him know it. I don't believe in these platonic
friendships. So I think that in time Madala found
out where they were making the mistake. And
he didn't, or wouldn't. Oh well ! :: she paused
expressively, " he's finding it out now. He has
been all the year. Didn't you see his face when he
came in tonight? Madala shouldn't have hurried.
Poor Madala ! Though I don't think it broke her
heart, you know."
"No." The blonde lady nodded. " She was too
serene, too placid, for real passion. She could draw
it well enough, but always from the outside." \
" Oh, I don't think so," said the Baxter girl.
" Think of the end of Ploughed Fields."
" Let's give her some credit for imagination, even
if we don't say ' genius ' ! I agree with Blanche.
Oh, perhaps her heart did crack just a little "
The blonde lady struck in —
" But then Carey's a doctor. So convenient ! ::
" Yes," said Mr. Flood. " I always said he caught
her on the rebound."
"And then, to mix metaphors, the fat was in
the fire. Then, Kent woke up to her. Isn't it
obvious? He was fond of Madala Grey, but it
was Mrs. Carey that he fell in love with. Just like
a man ! "
"Oh, I hate you," said Mr. Flood. "You
destroy my illusions. I'm like Anita. I demand
the tragic Madala."
" You can have her, I should think," said the
Baxter girl thoughtfully. " Oh, of course your
theory does seem probable as far as it goes, Miss
Howe, but "
" But what? " said Miss Howe.
" Well, she hardly ever came to town afterwards,
" Ah, Madala was always wise," said the blonde
Mr. Flood rubbed his hands.
" Thank-you, Beryl. We're in sympathy. And
its quite a satisfying, tragical picture, isn't it?
The two artists — he with his lay figure and she with
hex Hodge, and the long year between them. Can't
you see them, cheated, desirous, stretching out to
each other their impotent hands? One could make
something out of that."
" You could, Mr. Flood," said the Baxter girl
"Out of what?" Anita was always noiseless.
I jumped to hear her voice so close behind me.
Miss Howe looked up at her quizzingly.
"Madala and— Where is Kent?"
" With Mother still. He's managed her extra-
ordinarily. She's getting sleepy, thank goodness !
He'll be down in a minute." Then, with a change
of tone— "Madala and Kent? I think not, Lila
"But you said yourself " the Baxter girl
" Oh no ! I flung it out — a suggestion— a possi-
bility. I haven't committed myself— yet. I wish
I could be sure of Kent. He's upset my conception
of him tonight. I should have said— seliish.
Especially over Madala. But all men ore selfish.
Yet, tonight " she hesitated, playing with the
papers that lay half in, half out of the open desk.
"But who was it, if it wasn't Kent? Because
there was someone, you know And then, as
if Miss Howe's smile annoyed her beyond prud< nee
—"Do you think I'm inventing? Do you think
I've talked for amusement's sake? I tell you, she
was on the verge of an elopement. Without
benefit of clergy ! "
" Anita ! " Miss Howe half rose from her chair.
"We're getting it at last." Mr. Flood addressed
the room. " I knew she had something up her
" I don't believe — I won't believe it," said Miss
Then Anita smiled.
" Didn't I say she was careless about her drafts ?
I've a fragment here— no, I've left it in my writing-
table " and she rose as she spoke — " no name,
but it's proof enough. It's an answer to some
"But does she definitely consent ?" began
the Baxter girl.
" Not in so many words. But it's obvious there
was some cause or impediment, and he, whoever
he is, has evidently had qualms of conscience about
letting her call the world well lost for his sweet
' That would rule out Kent, of course," said
Miss Howe thoughtfully. " There was no reason
why Kent shouldn't marry."
' We know of none," said Anita in her suggestive
voice. " Isn't that as much as one can say of any
" Ah ! " said the Baxter girl, illuminated. I
don't know why — her round eyes, I suppose, and
L B GEND
her pursed mouth — hut she reminded me of the
woodcut of Minerva's owl in Lar0U88e.
"So you see my prime difficulty. I've passed
under re\ irw every man of her acquaintance, till I
narrowed down the possible "
"Affinities," said the hlonde lady.
" — to Kent Rehan, John Carey, and this
probable hut unknown third. There I hang fire.
Until I make up my mind on which of the three her
love story hinges, I can't do more than trifle with
the Life. And how shall I make up my mind ? "
"Three?" said Mr. Flood. "Two. You can
eliminate the husband. He's fifth act, not third."
" Yes, of course. But I never jump a step.
Which leaves me the unknown — or Kent."
The blonde lady leant forward rather eagerly —
" Nita ! Where's that letter ? "
" I'll get it." She went across the room to her
The Baxter girl twisted her head.
" I say ! He's coming down the stairs."
" If she read aloud that draft " the blonde
lady's drawl had disappeared. She glittered like
an excited schoolgirl — " he might recognize "
You mean ?' Mr. Flood raised his eye-
brows but Anita, fumbling with her keys, did not
"It would be nice to be sure," said the blonde lady.
"It's rather cruel, isn't it?" said Miss Howe
"Why? It'll be printed in the Life. Besides,
it may not have been written to him."
" That's why," said Miss Howe.
" It would be nice to be quite sure," said the
blonde lady again. And as she spoke Kent Rehan
came into the room.
At once I got up, with some blind, blundering
idea, I believe, of stopping him, of frustrating them,
but Anita was nearer to him than I.
"Is she asleep? Very good of you, Kent. Sit
here, Kent. Jenny, is the window open in the
passage? Very cold. I never knew such a
I went out to see. I had to do as I was told.
Besides, how could I have stopped them or him?
Yet I was shaking with anger and disgust at them,
and at myself for my hateful tongue-tied youth
and insignificance. An older woman would have
known what to do. Shaking with cold too — Anita
was right — it was bitter cold in the passage. I
could hardly see my way to the window for the fog.
It was open an inch at the bottom, and at my
touch it rattled down with a bang that echoed
oddly. For an instant I thought it was a knock at
the hall door. I stood a minute, quite startled,
peering down into the black well of the hall. But
there was no second knock, only the fog-laden
draught of the passage came rushing up at me again,
and again Anita called to me to come in and shut
the door. I did so : and because it rattled, wedged
L E GENU
it with the screw of paper that lay near it on tin
(loor, the crumpled telegram thai Ken! Rehan had
dropped when he first came in. Then, still shivering
a little, I sat down where 1 was. I didn't want to
go nearer. I knew my fact- was tell-tale. I didnM
want to have the Baxter girl looking at me, and
maybe saying something. 1 could hear them in the
other room well enough. Anita's voice seemed to
cut through the thick air. There was a Letter in
her hand. She was twisting it about as it' she
couldn't find the first page.
" — obviously a draft." She held it away from
her. Anita was long-sighted.
" Dear— dear
Then it breaks off and begins again. You see?
She displayed it to them.
11 Why, how clearly it's written ! ' The Baxter
girl peered at it. " That's quite a beautiful hand.
That's not Madala's scrawl."
The blonde lady looked at them through half
" Ah ! It's been written slowly "
"As if she loved writing it ! " The Baxter girl
flushed. " Did she know about that sort of thing
— that sentimental sort of thing? I should have
thought her too — oh, too splendid, removed — you
know what I mean."
" I don't suppose she talked about it," said
Anita coldly. " She was not of your generation."
And then, to the others — " I assure you, this letter
shook me. Even I never dreamed of this side of
her. Listen." She read aloud in her measured
" Dearest —
I wanted your letter so I reckoned out the
posts, and the distances, and your busyness. I thought
that in two days you would probably write, and then I
gave you another day's grace because you hate writing
letters, and because I thought you couldn't dream how
much I missed you — how much, how soon, I wanted
to hear. And then to get your letter the very next
day, before I could begin to look for it (but I did
look !). Why, you must have written as soon as the
train was out of the station ! You missed me just as
much then ?
But it's a mad letter, you know. It makes me laugh
and cry. It's so sensible — and so silly. ' Fame ',
' career ', ' reputation ', ' position ' — why do you fling
these words at me ? / am making a sacrifice ? Darling,
haven't you eyes ? Don't you understand that you're
my world ? All these other things, since I've known
you, they're shadows, they're toys, I don't want them.
The reviews of my new book — I've never been so
delighted at getting any — but why ? D'you know why ?
To show them to you — to watch you shake with laughter
as you read them. When a flattering letter turns up,
I save it to show you as if it were gold, because I think —
' Perhaps it'll make him think more of me.' Isn't it
idiotic ? But I do. And all the while I glory in the
knowledge that all these things, all the fuss and fame,
I. EG E N D
don't moan a brass button to you — or to mo, my <!<'ar,
or to me.
Ami Mt you write a Bolemn letter about ' making
a sacrifice,' 'abdicating a position.'
Don't be — humble. And yet I like you in this mood.
Because it won't last ! I won't let it. It's I who am
not good enough. If you knew how I tip-toe some-
times. You're so much bigger than I am. I lie in
bed at nights, and all the things I've done wrong in
my life, all the twisty, tort nuns, feminine things, all
the lies and cowardices and conceits, come And sting
me. I'm so bitterly ashamed of them. I feel I've got
to tell you about them all, and yet that if I do you'll
turn me out of your heart. If you did that — if you
were disappointed — if you got tired of me — it turns me
sick with fear.
I'm a fool to tear myself. I know you love me.
And when you're with me I forget all that. I'm ju>t
happy. When you're there it's like being in the blazing
sunshine. Can 'celebrity' give me that Btmshu
Can ' literature ' till my emptiness ? Axe the books I
write children to love me with your eyes ? Oh, you
Oh, of course, I know you don't mean it. It's just
that you think you ought to protest. But suppos. I
took you at your word ? Suppose I said that, on careful
consideration, I felt that I wanted to lead my own life
instead of yours? that — how does the list run? — my
Work, my Circle of Friends, my Career, were too much
to give up for — you? What would you say — no, do?
for even I, (and the sun's in my eyes) even I can't call
you eloquent ! But what would you do if I wouldn't
come to you ?
Oh, my darling, my darling, you needn't be afraid.
I'd rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God
I'm changed. What have you done to me ? Other
people notice it. My friends are grown critical of me.
Only yesterday someone (no-one you know) sneered at
me — ' In love ? Oh well, you'll get over it. It's a
phase.' You know, they don't understand. I'm not
' in love ', but I love you. There's the difference. I
love you. I shall love you till I die. Till ? As if
death could blot you out for me ! I u=;ed to believe
in death. I used to believe it ended everything. But
now, since I've known you, I can never die. You've
poured into me an immortal spirit "
" Go on," breathed the Baxter girl.
" It breaks off there. It's not signed. It was
" She had that much wisdom, then." The
blonde lady's laughter came to us over Mr. Flood's
shoulder. " That's not the letter to send to any
man. Giving herself away — giving us all away "
"To any man? To what man? There's the
point. You see the importance. It's the heart of
the secret. Who is it? For whom was she ready
to give up, in her own words, name, friends,
career ? "
" Well, practically she did that, didn't she, when
she married Care} 7 ? She buried herself in the
country. She didn't write a line. You said your-
self that she put her career behind her. Why
shouldn't it be written to Carey?"
" Oh, don't be absurd. It's Carey that makes
it impossible. How could Carey have written a
letter needing such an answer? Little he cared.
What was her genius to him? Isn't it obvious,
L K (; E N 1 )
isn't it plain as print, that (any happened, Carey
and all he stands for, after the writing of this let t it
Ixcansc of some hitch? Why wasn't the letter
Bent? What happened? What folly? What mis-
understanding ? What disillusionment? What
realization of danger?- to send her, with that letter
half written, into Carey's arms? Carey, that stick,
that ordinary man! And on the top of it The
I i csting-placc comes out. the cri du cceur — or, if
you like, Lila, the satire— (for I'm beginning to
believe you're right) the satire of The Resting- place.
I tell you, I smell tragedy."
" It's supposition, it's mere supposition." said
Miss Howe impatiently.
" Isn't all detective work supposition to begin
with? Wait till I've made my book. Wait till
I've sifted my evidence, till I've ranged it, stick
and brick, step by step, up, up, up, to the letter."
Suddenly from where he sat, half way between
me and them, Kent spoke —
" Anita, you can't publish that letter."
Her face, all their faces, turned towards us. She
"Why not?" And then— " Why do you sit
out there? Come here. Come into the light."
He did not stir.
She frowned, puckering her eyes.
" Such a fog," she said fretfully. " I can't see
you. Can't you keep that door shut, Jenny?"
Then— "Well, Kent— why not? Why not?"
He said slowly —
" It's not decent."
She flared at once.
" Decent ! Not decent ! What on earth do you
mean ? "
He kept her waiting while he thought it out.
" I mean — it's not right, it's not fair. To whom-
ever it was written, that's her business, not our
business. And that letter It's vile, anyway,
publishing her letters."
She stared at him in a sort of angry bewilderment.
"But why? I shall write her life. One always
does print letters."
" Not that sort of letter," he said.
" But don't you see," she cried, " that that letter,
just that letter "
He said —
" That's why. How dare you read that letter
here — aloud — tonight? It — it's ghoulish."
" Kent ! " There was outrage in her voice.
" But Kent " Miss Howe intervened — " we
knew her — we care — it's in all reverence "
And Mr. Flood —
" My dear man, she's not a private character.
The lives that will be written ! Anita's may be the
classic, but it won't be the only one. Letters are
bound to be printed — every scrap she ever wrote.
Nobody can stop it. It's only a question of time.
The public has its rights."
"To what?" He turned savagely. "You've
had her books. Sin's given enough. Will yo\i
leave her nothing private, nothing sacred?"
■ I'.i.i Cent, can't you see " Anita had an
air of pushing Miss Howe and Mr. Flood from h<r
road "aren't yon artist enough !«• sec ? A
writer, a woman like Mad.ila. she has no private
life. She lives to write. She lives what she writes.
She is what she writes. She gives her soul to the
world. She leaves her riddle to be read. Don't
you see? to be read. That's what I'm doing.
That's what I'm going to do — read her — for the
rest of you, for the public. Because — because they
care, because we all care. It's done in all honour.
It's a tribute. And for what I am going to do, such
a letter is the key."
She spoke softly, sweetly, persuasively. She
wooed him to agree with her. She was extra-
ordinarily eager for his approval. And the approval
of the others she did win. They were all murmuring
His eyes strayed over them, undecidedly, seeking
— not help. I do not know what he sought, but
his eyes found mine.
" You " he said to me — " would you want
your letter ?"
Anita's voice thrust in sharply. In the instant
the pleading, the beauty, the woman, was gone
from it. It was cold and shrill.
" Jenny's views can hardly concern us."
But he did not listen to her. He had drawn
some answer from me that satisfied him. He
" Oh," I cried beneath my breath, and I think I
touched his arm — "you won't let her?"
He shook his head. Then he went across to
where Anita stood, her eyes on him, on me, while
she listened to Miss Howe whispering at her
" Look here, Anita ! " he began.
" I'm looking," she said.
He checked a moment, puzzled. Then he went
" That letter — you can't print it. You've no
right. It's not your property."
She waved it aside.
" I shall be literary executor. She promised.
It's mine if it's anyone's. It's no good, Kent, it
goes into the book. Nothing can alter that.
Then she stopped dead. There was that same
odd look in her eye as there had been when she
watched us — that flicker of curiosity, and behind it
the same gleam of inexplicable anger.
" Look here " she said very deliberately —
" look you here — what has it got to do with
It was not the words, it was the tone. It was
shameless. It was as if she had cried aloud her
hateful questions — ' Did you love her ? ' ' What
was there between you ? ' 'I want to know it all.
L EG EN I)
It tears mo not to know.' lint what she said to
him. and before lie could answer, was —
" If, of course — anyone— had any right — could
prove any right " She broke off, watching him
closely. But he s;iid nothing. ' If," she said, and
poked with her finger, "if that letter— if yon
n cognized it- — if that were the rough draft of a
letter that had been sent "
He stared down at her. His face was bleak.
" You'll get no copy from me, Anita ! "
" Oh ! " She caught her bivat h. fierce and wicked
as a cat with a bird, yet shrinking as a cat does,
supple, ears flat. " I only meant — I said right.
If anyone — if you could satisfy me — if you have
any right "
He said —
" I have no right."
" Oh well, then ! ' She shrugged her shoulders.
" But," he held stubbornly to his purpose,
" whoever has a right to it — you can't print that
She laughed at him.
" You'll see ! You'll see ! "
" Yes," he said, " I'll see."
They held each other's eyes, angry, angry. I
felt how Kent Rehan loathed her. And she — yes,
she must have hated him. She was all bitterness
and triumph and defiance. Yet all the time I was
wanting to catch him by the arm and say — ' Be
kind to her. Say something kind and she'll give
in.' I knew it. He had only to say in that instant
— ' Anita, I beg of you ' and she would have
given him the letter. I knew it. I know it. I
don't know how I knew it, but I was sure. But he
was a man : of course he saw nothing. He was
very angry. He looked big and fine. I wondered
that she could stand outfacing him.
But she, for answer, picked up the letter, and
affected to search through it.
"Had I finished? Where was I? Ah, yes —
' An immortal spirit ' "
His hand came down heavily and swept the light
" You can't do it. You shan't do it. By God
How it happened I couldn't see. He was too
quick. But at one moment she held the letter, and
in the next he had it, and was kneeling at the
grate, while she cried out —
" Kent ! " And then—" Lila ! Jasper ! Stop
him ! "
Nobody could have stopped him. There was no
flame, but the fire still burned, a caked red and
black lump, smouldering on cinders. He picked it
up — with his naked hands — thrust in the crumpled
stiff paper, and smashed it down again, so that the
lump split, and still held it pressed down, with
naked hands, till the sheet had charred and shrivelled
into nothing. I suppose it all happened in a few
seconds, but it seemed like hours. I was in a train
L E G E N 1)
smash once : I wasn't hurt ; but 1 remember ih.it I
CAHie out of it with just the same sense of being
battered and aged. This scene I had only watched :
I had not shared in it : I was still in the little outer
room. Yet I was shaken. I heard Mr. Flood call
Out — "Kent, you ent/\ fool I ' I heard Anita —
"Let me go, Lilu ! " And then the women Were
between me and him, and I could only sec their
hacks, and there w;is a babel of voices, and I found
myself sitting like a fool, clutching at the arms of
my chair, and saying over and over again — " Oh,
his hands, his hands, his poor hands ! ' The tears
were running down my cheeks.
But nobody noticed me. They were all too busy.
The group had shifted a little. The Baxter girl
was edged out of it, and I watched her for a moment
as she sat down again, her cheeks flaming, her e\es
as bright as wet pebbles. She looked — it's the
only word — consumptive with excitement. Every
now and then she tried not to cough. I heard
her saying — " It's the fog, it's the awful fog ! '
defensively. But nobody listened. They were all
Anita was dreadful. She was tremulous with
anger. She was like a pendulum with the check
taken away. Her whole body shook. She couldn't
linish her sentences. She talked to everyone at
Miss Howe had her by the arm. Miss Howe was
trying to quiet her —
" My dear woman — steady now ! You don't
want a row, you know ! You've got the rest of the
papers." But she might have talked to the wind.
" He comes into my house — my property — in my
own house It's an outrage ! Kent, it's an
outrage ! "
Kent Rehan rose to his feet. It was like a rock
breaking through that froth of women. He stood
a moment, nervously, brushing the black from his
hands and wincing as he did so. Then he looked up.
His eyes met hers. He flushed.
" Kent ! Kent ! " She flung off Miss Howe.
The intensity of reproach in her voice startled me,
and I think it startled him. I found myself thinking
— ' All this anger for what ? for a burnt paper ? It's
impossible ! But then — then what's the matter
with her ? '
He said awkwardly —
" I'm sorry, Anita."
" You! " she cried panting — " You, to interfere !
D'you know what you've done, what you've tried
to do ? Will you take everything, you and he ?
Haven't I my work too ? Oh, what you've had from
her, what you've had from her ! And now you cheat
He was bewildered. He said again —
" I'm sorry, Anita."
She came close to him. Her little hands were
clenched. There was a w r ail in her voice —
"You! Aren't you friends with me? Didn't I
LEG EX 1)
share her with you ? Isn't she my work too ? What
would \ou say if I came l<> \our house and saw your
work, your life work that she'd made possible, your
pictures thai are her, all her- and slashed them with
a knife? What would you do if I'd done that, if
I'll cut it to ribbons, your Spring Song?**
That moved him. I saw a sort of comprehension
lighting his Stubborn face. The artist in her touched
the artist in him. Of what lay behind the artist
he had no knowledge. But he said, quite humbly —
" Anita, I'm sorry ! "
Yet I knew that he was not sorry for what he had
" Sorry ! Sorry ! Much good your sorrow
does ! " she shrilled, and I saw him stiffen again.
She was strange. She valued him, that was so plain,
and yet, it almost seemed in self-defence, she was
always at her worst with him. " Sorry ! It was
the key of the book. You've spoilt my book.'"
** Xita ! Xita! One letter!" Miss Howe was
almost comical in her dislike of the scene. " As if
you couldn't pull it off without that." She pulled
her aside, lowering her voice— " Nita. what's the
use of a row ? Pull yourself together. Put yourself
in his place. Besides — you can't afford " She
looked at Kent significantly. Anita's pale glance
followed her and so their eyes met again. She was
angry and sullen and irresolute. Another woman
would have been near tears.
" Kent," she began. And then — " Kent — if we
quarrel We're too old to quarrel If you had
a shadow of excuse "
She took fire again because he did not meet her
" But if you think you've stopped me " she
cried. She broke off with a laugh and a new idea —
"As if," she said slowly and scornfully, " as if
Madala would have cared ! "
He said distinctly —
" You didn't know her. You'd never under-
" Ah," she said, pressing forward to him, " why
do you take that tone ? What is it I don't under-
stand ? If you'd help me with what you know, it
could be big stuff. I'd forgive you for the letter if
you'd work with me." She hung on his answer.
But he only said, not looking at her, in the same
" You'd never understand." And then, with an
effort—" I'll go, Anita. I'm going. I'd better go."
Without waiting for her answer he went across
the room to the little sofa near me where the hats
and coats lay piled. I heard him fumbling for his
But Anita went back to the others. The watching
group seemed to open to receive, to enclose her. Her
head had touched the lamp as she passed under it,
and set it swaying wildly, so that I could scarcely
see their faces in that shift of light and shadow
through !h< thickened air. Hut I heard her angry
laugh, and hex voice overtopping the murmur —
" Mad ! He was always mad ! If he weren't such
an old friend " And then the Baxter girl's
voice — " Think of the sketches there must be!'
And Miss Howe — " Wha1 I say is you don't want
to quarrel!" And hers again — "Did you hear
him? 1 not understand Rfadala ! Mad, I tell you !
If I don't know Madala "
It was at that moment that I looked up and saw a
woman standing in the doorway.
"Anita!*' I murmured warningly. lint my
voice did not reach her, and indeed, she and the
little gesticulating group in the further room seemed
suddenly far away. The air had been thickening for
the last hour, and now, with the opening of the door,
the fog itself came billowing in on either side of the
newcomer as water streams past a ship. It flooded
the room, soundlessly, almost, 1 remember thinking,
purposefully, as if it would have islanded us, Kent
and me. It affected me curiously. I felt muffled.
I knew I ought to get up and call again to Anita
or attend to the visitor myself, but the quiet seemed
to dull my wits. I found myself placidly wondering
who she was and why she did not come in ; but I
made no movement to welcome her. I just sat still
She was a tall girl — woman — for either word
fitted her: she had brown hair. She was dressed
in — I should have said, if you had iskcd me, that
1 could remember every detail, and I can in my own
mind ; but when 1 try to write it down, it blurs. But
I know that there was blue in her dress, and bright
colours. It must have been some flowered stuff.
She looked — it's a silly phrase — but she looked like
a spring day. I wanted her to come into the room
and drive away the fog that was making me blink
and feel dizzy. There was a gold ring on her finger :
yes, and her hands were beautiful — strong, white
hands. In one she held the brass candle-stick that
stood in the hall, and with the other she sheltered
the weak flame from the draught. Yet not only
with her hand. Her arm was crooked maternally,
her shoulder thrust forward, her hip raised, in a
gesture magnificently protecting, as though the new-
lit tallow-end were fire from heaven. Her whole
body seemed sacredly involved in an act of guardian-
ship. But half the glory of her pose — and it was
lovely enough to make me catch my breath — was its
unconsciousness; for her attention was all ours.
Her eyes, as she listened to the group by the hearth,
were sparkling with amusement and that tolerant,
deep affection that one keeps for certain dearest,
foolish friends. It was evident that she knew them
"Can't you keep that door shut, Jenny? The
Anita's back was towards me. Her voice, as she
spoke over her shoulder, rang high, muffled, injurious,
and — I laughed. In a flash the stranger's eyes were
N 2 179
L KG END
on me, and I found myself thrilling where I sat,
absurdly startled for the moment, because- sin
knew me too ! She knew me quite well. She was
smiling at me, not vaguely as who should sa\
'Oh. surely I've seen you somewhere?' but with
intimate, disturbing knowledge. It was the glance
that a doetor gives you, the swift, acquainted glance
that, without offence, deciphers you. I was no1
offended either, only curious and — attracted. She
looked so friendly. 1 half began to say — ' But when f
but where ? ' but her bearing overruled me. Her
mouth was pursed conspiratorial!)' : if her hand had
been free she would have put a finger to her lip. I
smiled back at her, llattcred to be partner in her un-
comprehcnded secret. But I was curious — oh, I was
curious ! It was incredible to me that Anita and
the rest should stand, subduing their voices to the
soft, thick stillness that she and the fog between them
had brought into the room, and yet remain uncon-
scious of her vivid presence. I was longing to see
their faces when they should at last turn and see her,
and yet, if you understand, I was afraid lest they
should turn too soon and break the pleasant numb-
ness that was upon me. And upon them — the
spell was upon them too. It was the look in her
eyes, not glamorous, but kind. It healed. It
passed like a drowse across the squabblers at the
table : it stilled Anita's feverish monologue. Indeed
the room had grown very still. There was no sound
left in it but the slurring of the lamp. It rested
upon Kent as be stood in dumb misery, and I
watched the strained lines of his body slacken and
grow easier beneath it. At that — at that ease she
gave him — suddenly I loved her.
And as if I had spoken, as if I had touched her with
my hand, her eyes, that had grown heavy with his
trouble, turned, brightening, upon me, as if I were
the answer to a problem, the lifting of a care. But
what the problem was I could not then tell; for,
staring as she made me — as she made me — into her
divining eyes, I saw in them not her thought but my
own at last made clear to me — my dream, my hope,
my will and my desire, new-born and naked, and, I
swear it, bodiless to me before that night and that
hour. It was too soon. I was not ready. It
shamed me and I flinched, my glance wandering
helplessly away like a dog's when you have forced
it to look at you. And so noticed, idly, uncompre-
hending at first, and then with a stiffening of my
whole body, that her hand did not show as other
hands, blood-red against the light she screened,
but coldly luminous, like the fingers of a cloud
through which the moon is shining : and that
her breast was motionless, unstirred by any
Then I was afraid.
I felt my skin rising. I felt my bones grow cold.
I could not move. I could not breathe. I could
A voice came out of the fog that had thickened to
L E G E N D
.1 wall between the rooms — a voice, thin, remote,
like .'i trunk call —
"Can't you keep that door shut, Jenny? The
draught " and was cut off again by th<- Budden
crash of an overturned chair. There was a rush and
a cry — a madman's voice, shouting, screaming,
" Madala Grey ! My God, Madala Grey ! '" and
Kent's huge body, hurling against the door, pitched
and fell heavily.
For the door was shut.
I ran to him. He was shaken and half stunned,
but he struggled to his feet. It was dreadful to sec
him. He was like a frightened horse, shivering and
sweating. His lips were loose and he muttei
unevenly as if the words came without his will. I
caught them as I helped him; the same words —
always the same words.
I got him to the sofa while the rest of them crowded
and clamoured, and then I found myself taking com-
mand. I made them keep off. I sent Anita for
water and a towel and I bathed his forehead where
he had cut it on the moulding of the door. Mr.
Flood wanted to send for a doctor, but I wouldn't
have it. I knew how he would hate it. Then
someone — the Baxter girl, I think — giggled hysteric-
ally and said something about a black eye tomorrow,
and then — " How did it happen ? " " Did you see,
Miss Summer?' And at that they all began to
clamour again like an orchestra after a solo, repeating
in all their voices — " Yes, what happened ? What
on earth was it ? Did you see him ? Some sort of a
seizure ? I told you twice to shut that door. The
draught Are you better now, old man ? Kent
— what happened ? "
They were crowding round him again. He pointed
a shaking finger.
" She saw," he said. " She knows "
"Jenny?" Anita turned on me sharply, an
employer addressing a servant at fault. " Oh, of
course — you were in here too. What happened
I had a helpless moment.
" Well ? " she demanded.
I stared at her. It was incredible, but there was
actually jealousy in her voice. It said, pitifully
plainly — ' Again I have missed the centre of a
situation ! '
"Well?" she repeated. And then— " If you
saw something " She altered the phrase — " Tell
us what you saw."
But I had not missed the quick fear that had
shown, for a moment, in Kent's eyes — fear of be-
trayal even while his tongue was betraying him.
I laughed. I thought to myself as I answered,
' Oh, I am doing this beautifully ! ' And I was.
My voice sounded perfectly natural, not a bit high.
I had plenty of words. I said, most jauntily —
" Oh, Cousin Nita, I could hardly see my own nose.
The fog had been simply pouring in. My fault — I
didn't latch the door properly, I suppose. And then
you called, and Mr. Kchan went to shut it for me,
and he slithered on the mat, and "
" I see ! "
"Of course! Parquet The Baxter girl
took a step or two and pirouetted back to us. ' Per-
fect ! You ought to give a dance, Miss Serle."
Anita made no answer, but taking the can and tin
towel she opened the door of dispute, and, stooping
an instant on the threshold to lift some small object
from the floor, went out of the room. We heard her
set down her load on the landing, and the rattle of
the sash as she threw up the window, paused, and
shut it again. She came back. A fresh inflow of
acrid vapour preceded her and set us coughing.
It was the stooping, I suppose, that had reddened her
cheeks, for she was flushed when she came back to us.
It was the only time that I ever saw my cousin with
a colour. She spoke to us, a little gaspingly, as if the
fog had caught her too by the throat —
"Jenny's quite right. One can't see an inch in
front of one. No — not a cab in hearing. You'll
have to resign yourselves to staying on indefinitely.
What ? oh, what nonsense, Kent ! As if I'd let you
go in that state ! Besides, there's Jasper's poem.
Are you going away without hearing it ? ' The soft
monologue continued as she shepherded them to the
fire. " That's always the way — one talks — one gets
no work done. Get under the light, Jasper ! Beryl,
help me to move the table. Oh yes, Jasper, I forgot
to tell you, I met Roy Huth the other day and he had
just read "
I heard a movement behind me. I turned. Kent
had half risen. He spoke —
" Sit down. Sit down here." He touched the
cushion beside him.
I shook my head.
•' Not yet. My cousin "
" Ah "
We were silent.
I watched Anita. She stood a few moments in
unsmiling superintendence, while the women settled
themselves and Mr. Flood sorted his papers and
cleared his throat. Then, as I had known she would
do, she returned soft-footed to her purpose. At the
same moment I left Kent Rehan's side. When she
reached the archway between the two rooms, I was
" And now " she confronted me — " what
" I told you."
"Did you? I have forgotten. Tell me again."
" Anita — he slipped. He fell. He was shutting
"Did he replace this?" She opened her little
hand. The wedge of paper that I had twisted lay
on her palm. " It was shut in the door when I
opened it just now." She waited a moment. Then,
with a certain triumph — "Well?
L EG E N I)
I said nothing. What was then to say?
She tossed it from her.
"Don't he silly. Jenny I \N' h.it iras it? Who
w.is it ? ' Her c\< s were horribly intellig* nt.
"He slipped. He fell, He was shutting the
door." I felt I could go on Baying that for eve* and
The red patches in her clucks deepened. She
spoke pasl me, rudely, furiously —
" I intend to know. I've a perfect right
Kent, I intend to know/'
I put out my arms carelessly, though my heart
was thudding, and rested them against the door-
"He's shaken — a heavy man like that. Better
leave him alone."
" I intend to know," she insisted. And then —
"Jenny! Jenny! Let me pass."
"No!" I said.
For a second we stood opposed, and in that second
I realized literally for the first time (so dominating
had her personality been) that she was shorter than
I. She was dwindling before my eyes. 1 found my-
self looking down at her with almost brutal com-
posure. That I had ever been afraid of her was the
marvel ! For I was young, and she was elderly. I
was strong, and she was weak. Her bare arms were
like sticks, but mine were round and supple, and I
could feel the blood tingle in them as my grip tight-
ened on the wood-work. She was only Anita Serle,
the well-known writer; but I was Jenny Summer,
and Kent was needing me.
" Jenny — you will be sorry ! " Her eyes and her
voice were one threat. Such eyes ! Eyes whose
pupils had dilated till the irids were mere threads
that encircled jealousy itself — jealousy black and
bitter — jealousy that had stolen upon us as the fog
had done, obscuring, soiling, stifling friend and enemy
alike — jealousy of a gift and a great name, of a dead
woman and a living man and their year of happiness
— jealousy beyond reason, beyond pity — jealousy
insatiable, already seeking out fresh food, turning
deliberately, vengeful ly, upon Kent and upon
I felt sick. I had never dreamed that there could
be such feelings in the world. And now she was
going to Kent, to probe and lacerate and poison —
" No ! " I said.
Actually she believed that she could pass me !
I still held fast by the door-posts, and she did not
use her hands. We were silent and decorous, but
for an instant our bodies fought. She was pressed
against me, panting —
"No!" I said.
Then she fell away, and without another word
turned and went back into the other room.
I saw Miss Howe whisper some question. There
was an instant's silence. Then her answer came —
"' Much better leave him alone. Yes — rather
shaken — a heavy man like that."
It was defeat. She w.is using my very words,
because, for all her fluency, she had none with which
to cover it.
I was sorry. I felt a brute. But what else could I
bave done ? I stood a moment watching her recover
herself. Then I went back to Kent.
He did not look up, but he moved a little to give
me room. I sat down beside him. We were shut
away between the wall and the window, in the
shadow, out of sight of the others. It was very
peaceful. Now and then I looked at Kent, but he
was staring before him. He had forgotten all about
me again, I knew. But I was content. It made me
happy to be sitting by him. My thoughts hopped
about like birds after crumbs. I remember wonder-
ing what I should do on the morrow — where I should
go ? That Anita would have me in the house another
twenty-four hours was not likely. I had ten pounds.
I did not care. I knew that I ought to be anxious,
but I could not realize the need. I could not think
of anything but him; yet I was afraid to speak to
him. He sat so still. His face was set in schooled
and heavy lines. There came a stir and a clash of
voices from the other room, but he did not seem to
hear it. It was only the end of a poem. In a little
it had settled down again into the same monotonous
hum, but for a moment I had thought that it was
the break-up, and after that I had no peace. It had
scared me. It made me realize that I had only a few
minutes — half an hour at most — and that then he
would be going away — and when should I see him
again ? Never — maybe never ! He had his life
all arranged. He didn't even know my name. I
felt desperate. I couldn't let him go. I didn't
know what to do. I only knew that — that I couldn't
bear it if he went away from me.
It was then that he moved and straightened him-
self in his chair with a sigh, that heavy, long-drawn
sigh that men give when they make an end. ' Work
or play, joy or grief, it's done with. And now ? '
Such a sigh as you never hear from women. But
then we are not wise at ending things.
I thought that he was getting up, that he was
going then and there, and instinctively I hurried
into speech, daring anything — everything — his own
thoughts of me — rather than let him go.
" Yes — that's over ! " I translated softly.
He turned with such a stare that I could have
" I meant that. How did you know ? "
" Why shouldn't I know ? " I did smile then. It
made him smile back at me, but doubtfully, unwil-
" Can you read thoughts — too? " The last word
seemed to come out in spite of himself.
" Not always. Yours I can." My face was burn-
ing. But I could have spared myself the shame that
made it burn, for he did not understand. My voice
said nothing to him. My face showed him nothing.
He was thinking about himself. But he leant for-
L EG E N I)
ward in that way he has a dear way of liking *"
talk to you.
"Can you? I never r;in. Only when I paint.
I can |iiit them into paint, of course. But not words.
She said " and all through the subsequent talk
he avoided the name — "she said it was Laziness, a
lazy mind. But I always told her that that was her
fault. I — we — her people — were just wool: she
knitted us into our patterns. She was a wonder.
You know, she — she was good for one. She was like
bread — bread and wine " His voice strained
" Yes. I felt that too."
He glanced sideways at me.
"Ah, then you knew her?' His voice (or I
imagined it) had chilled. It began to say, that faint
chill, that if I too were of ' the set,' he could not be at
ease. But I would not give him time to think awry.
"No, no! Only tonight. But I do know her."
" Tonight," I said and looked at him.
"Then " his hand tightened on the chair,
" you saw ? I was right ? You did see ? "
" I saw — something," I admitted.
His face lighted up. He pulled in his chair to
"Her hands — did you notice her hands? I have
a drawing of them somewhere. Ill show it to
you " He stopped short: Then — "What is
your name ? " he asked me.
" Jenny. Jenny Summer."
He considered that fact for a moment and put
it aside again.
" I'd like you to see it. Anita will want it for
that damned scrap-book of hers. She'll be worrying
at me — they all will."
" You won't let it go ? " I said quickly.
He shook his head.
" No. But they can't understand why. They
can't understand anything. They thought I was
mad just now. So I was, for that matter. To see
her again, you know — to see her again "
" I know," I said.
He laughed nervously.
" Hallucination, of course. Thought transference.
What you please. They'd say so. Do you think
so ? And I'd been thinking of my picture of her.
Oh, I admit it. So we must look at the matter in the
light of common-sense."
" But I saw her too."
His eyes softened, and his voice.
" Yes. You were there. That's comfort. You
saw her too — standing there with her dear hands
full of cowslips "
" A torch," I said.
"Cowslips ' he checked on the word.
"She \v;is carrying ;i candle, "* I insisted. " ll
had just been lighted. She was holding it so care-
We stared at each other.
" You're sure? "
He fell back wearily in his chair.
"What's the good of talking? She's dead.
That's the end of it. I was dreaming. Of course.
But when you said that you saw, for a moment I
believed What does it matter? What does
it matter anyway? But her hands were full of
I turned to him eagerly. 1 knew what to say.
It was as if the words were being whispered to me.
1 That was your Madala Grey. But mine — how-
could she be the same ? Oh, can't you see ? We've
nev< r seen the real Madala Grey. She gave — she
became — to each of us — what we wanted most.
She wrote down our dreams. She tiers our dreams.
Can't you see what she meant to my cousin ? Anita
toils and slaves for her little bit of greatness. But
she was born royal. That's why Anita hates her
so — hates her and worships her. Why, she's been a
sort of star to you all — a symbol — a legend —
But the real Madala Gray — she wasn't like that.
She was just a girl. She was hungry all the time.
She was wanting her human life. And he, the man
they laugh at, ' the thing she married,' he did love
that real Madala Grey. Why, he didn't even know
of the legend. Don't you see that that was what
she wanted ? She could take from him as well as
give. Life — the bread and wine — they shared it.
Oh, and it's him I pity now, not you. Not you,"
I said again, while my heart ached over him. " You
— can't you see what she showed you ? Not her-
" What then? " he said harshly.
I made the supreme effort.
" But what — a woman — one day — would be to
I thought the silence would never break.
The strange courage that had been in me was
suddenly gone. I felt weak and friendless. I
wanted to cry. I waited and waited till I could
bear it no longer. Then I lifted my eyes desperately,
with little hope, to read in his face what the end
I found him looking at me fixedly — at me, you
understand, not through me to a subject that
absorbed him, but at me myself. It was as if he
were seeing me for the first time. No — as if he
recognized me at last.
Then the doubts went, and the shame and the
loneliness. It made me so utterly happy, that look
on his face. I felt my heart beating fast.
He said then, slowly — I can remember the words,
the tone and pitch of his voice, the very shaping of his
mouth as he said it —
" Do you know — it's strange — you remind me of
LEG 1 : N I )
her. You arc very like her. You are very like
The hunger in his voice hurt inc. I wanted to
put my anus round him and comfort him. I might
haV€ done it, for I knew I was still but half real to
him. But I sat still only, with such a sense in
my heart of a trust laid upon me, of an inheritance,
of a widening and golden future, I said to him —
"Y'es. I know."
October 1917— April 1919.
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